17 June 2008
Major reforms to tighten UK immigration process
The UK Government announced major changes to the immigration system yesterday, which are due to come into effect on June 30. The Home Office have said this is the "biggest shake up to UK immigration system in 40 years".
The Government is following in the footsteps of the successful Australia visa programme, which assesses visa applicants on a points-based system (PBS).
The new system will have several tiers; Tier 1 is the first tier to be introduced to the new UK immigration process. Tier 1 allows only those migrants to work in Britain that are absolutely necessary, including highly skilled migrants, investors, and business owners. Tier 1 builds on the successful Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP). Further tiers will be introduced over the next year.
The Tier 1 system has been tested by the Government for UK visa applications from foreign skilled workers already in the UK who need to extend their visa, and for Indian skilled workers hoping to migrate to the UK.
The PBS system is based on the Australia visa programme, which means applicants earn points for their skills, ability to support themselves and their dependants, qualifications, earnings, and English skills. These points are then calculated to see if the applicant is regarded as a highly skilled worker.
UK visa applications for skilled migrants will be reduced in complexity, reducing it to a one-step process. Applicants will also benefit from the length of the visa being extended from two years to three years.
The new system is designed to streamline the application process, but also tighten security measures at border control. Before UK visas are approved, the British border security will need fingerprints from visa applicants to check against government databases for criminal records.
Tougher penalties for employers of illegal workers have also been introduced, while the penalty for immigrants using false documents to get UK visas increased on April 1 to a ban of 10 years from the country.
"The UK is a fantastic place to work and develop for those with the skills we need. A points system has worked well in Australia and I think it will work well for Britain. This is a key part of the huge shake-up to our border security this year," said the Border and Immigration Minister Liam Byrne.
Anyone interested in getting a better understanding of their current position under UK visa regulations should request a call from a qualified UK Visa Bureau migration consultant to see if they are eligible for migration to the UK, or call direct on Freephone 0800 043 7011. Alternatively, HSMP visa hopefuls should try taking the HSMP online assessment.