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UNITED KINGDON: New Immigration Rules - Changes to Tier 2

The UKBA announced on March 14, 2013, new Immigration Rules to be introduced on April 6, 2013. The categories of migrants affected by these changes include Points-Based System migrants, as well as foreign migrant spouses of British nationals. The changes to Tier 2 include:

  • As noted in the last Global Immigration Update, Tier 2 migrants who leave the UK and whose leave expires are subject to a 12-month "cooling-off period" before they can return under Tier 2. The UKBA is making this change in response to requests from businesses to reduce the impact of this policy on their ability to recruit and transfer very senior staff. The change means that the "cooling-off period" will no longer apply to Tier 2 migrants being sponsored in a job with an annual salary of £152,100 or more. 
  • A further change is that Intra-Company Transferees earning £152,100 or more annually will be exempted from the current requirement of proving their English-language ability when they extend their stay in the UK beyond three years.
  • To reduce administrative burdens on applicants and sponsoring employers, the UKBA is changing the requirement that Intra-Company Transferees provide 12 months of payslips to prove they have worked for their sponsoring employer's organization for at least 12 months. The 12-month prior employment rule will continue to apply but will need to be confirmed through the provision of payslips only where there is any doubt.
  • The UKBA is changing the post-study work provision for students graduating in the UK to switch into Tier 2. The existing rules require such students to have existing valid leave and to have graduated during a period of continuous leave, which includes their current grant of leave. Breaks in leave of up to 28 days will now be acceptable, in line with the policy on overstayers established in HC 194 (set before Parliament on June 13, 2012). The changes also clarify that undergraduate master's degrees are eligible under the provisions as well as postgraduate master's degrees.
  • To improve flexibility, the UKBA is adjusting the permitted changes to a Tier 2 migrant's salary that may be made without requiring a fresh application. The changes permit reductions in salary as well as increases, provided the salary does not fall below the appropriate rate for the occupation or any overall salary threshold that applies to the applicant. These changes apply in addition to the existing provisions for maternity, paternity, or adoption leave; long-term sick leave; and company-wide reductions in pay to avoid redundancies.
  • The UKBA is confirming that Tier 2 (General) migrants may apply for extensions to continue working in the same occupation (not just the same job) with the same sponsor, without a Resident Labour Market Test being required.

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