19 March 2009

Important changes to Tier 1 and Tier 2 UK skilled visa rules

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The UK Border Agency has announced important changes to the Tier 1 and Tier 2 categories for skilled migration to the UK. The Agency has also confirmed the resident labour market test would be enhanced to ensure British jobs are being advertised to local workers first.

The Tier 1 category of the new points-based system will undergo changes on the 31 March 2009, making it harder for applicants to get a UK skilled migration visa and will "raise the bar" for foreign workers.

The Tier 1 (General) and Tier 1 (Post-Study Work) categories will change so that overseas workers using the tier 1 category for skilled migration would have to have at least a masters' degree – rather than a bachelor's degree - if they have not already secured a job in the UK.  They also have to prove their previous salary amounted to at least £20,000, which is a £3,000 increase on the current rules.

As of 31 March, anyone applying for an extension of their Tier 1 visa will not be affected by these changes, whereas those looking to switch to the Tier 1 category from another category and those who are applying to the Tier 1 (General) category for the first time will have their UK visa applications assessed against the new rules.

Changes to the resident labour market test will mean that employers must post vacancies in Jobcentre Plus and using one other approved method of advertising before sponsoring a skilled migrant through the Tier 2 (General) category.  The Tier 2 (General) pathway to UK skilled migration allows employers with an employer sponsorship licence to sponsor overseas workers to fill vacancies in their workforce, and is similar to the old UK work permit system. 

The UK Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in UK visa and immigration services.

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