UK Govt. announces end to automatic settlement for skilled workers

Friday, 2 March 2012 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

As part of the UK Government’s commitment to reviewing the immigration system, last summer a consultation was launched proposing reforms to employment-related settlement, Tier 5 of the points based system and overseas domestic worker routes.

The UK’s Immigration Minister, Damian Green, yesterday announced the government’s response to this consultation. The proposed changes will mean that migrant workers coming to the UK on a Tier 2 (skilled worker) visa will no longer be able to settle in the UK based on the amount of time they have spent in the UK.

A new minimum pay threshold will also mean that only the brightest and best workers, who strengthen the UK economy, will be able to apply to stay in the UK permanently. 

The new rules will break the link between coming to the UK to work and staying forever. Exceptionally talented people, investors and entrepreneurs will continue to have the option to stay in the UK.

Skilled temporary workers who want to apply for settlement will have to earn at least £35,000, or the going rate for their job, whichever is higher. Migrants doing jobs which are in shortage and scientists and researchers in PhD-level roles will be exempt from the £35,000 salary threshold. Temporary leave will be capped at 6 years to reinforce the temporary nature of Tier 2 of the points based system.

As part of these proposals, the Government also intends to:

nContinue to provide a direct route to settlement for investors, entrepreneurs and exceptionally talented migrants under Tier 1.

nContinue to provide a route to settlement for the best Tier 2 migrants, if they meet a minimum salary threshold of £35,000.

nAllow those who enter as PhD-level scientists and researchers to qualify for settlement without having to meet the £35,000 minimum salary threshold.

nExempt all workers in shortage occupation jobs (currently including specialist nurses, teachers and social workers) from the minimum settlement salary threshold of £35,000.

nAllow Tier 2 migrants to extend their temporary permission to stay in the UK up to maximum of 6 years, and introduce a requirement that Tier 2 migrants who leave the UK will need to wait for 12 months before they may apply to re-enter the UK under Tier 2.

nRetain a route for overseas domestic workers in private households, but only when they accompany a visitor and this is limited to 6 months’ stay, with no right to change employer.

nRetain the current route of entry for private servants in diplomatic households under the Tier 5 of the points based system (Temporary Worker - International Agreement category), with a maximum stay of 5 years and no ability to change employer or to settle in the UK.

In addition, the Government plans to make changes to the visitor rules to allow a defined group of professionals to undertake specific fee-paid activities for short stays of up to one month without formal sponsorship requirements.

Immigration Minister Damian Green said: “Settlement in the UK is a privilege. We are sweeping aside the idea that everyone who comes here to work can settle, and instead reserving this important right only for the brightest and the best.

“Our reforms of the immigration system will ensure we are more selective, not only about those who are allowed to come here, but also those who are allowed to stay permanently.”

The UK Government is reforming all routes of entry to the UK in order to bring immigration levels under control and reduce net migration from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands.

It has already taken action to reduce numbers by restricting the number of migrants from outside the European Union who can go to the UK to work, and has also introduced significant changes to the student visa system.  The changes announced yesterday will bring greater control over who is able to settle in the UK.