30 April 2009

Important changes to highly skilled migrant programme for UK visa holders

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The highly skilled migrant programme (HSMP) for UK visa holders has undergone important changes for those wanting to apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR).

Changes to the UK visa system on 3 April 2006 meant that UK visa holders working in through the HSMP could only qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) after five years' continuous residence, rather than the previous requirement of four years.

While at the time the changes did not consider those who entered the UK through the HSMP before the 3 April 2006, and a recent court hearing has ruled that all those UK visa holders who entered the UK before this date and were affected by the ruling now will be exempt from the five year qualifying period. 

This means that all those highly skilled migrants who entered before the 3 April 2006 will only need to have spent four years continuously in the United Kingdom to qualify for a permanent residence UK visa.

This also means that some people have leave that is due to expire before or after the policy and procedures are fully operational and published on the UKBA website and these people need to submit an in-time application, which will be held until the new policy is fully operational.

Policy and procedures regarding the changes should be live by 20 May 2009.

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

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