LONDON March 27: Several changes for UK visas will come into effect 6 April 2012. The changes will affect those applying for tier visas as Tier 2 visa skilled workers, Tier 4 students and other Tier visa temporary workers.
Increased Visa Fees
UK immigration fees will increase by only 2 percent in the majority of cases, but there will be much bigger fee increases for certain visa routes.
It will also be more expensive for organisations in the UK that wish to employ immigrants to become sponsors. Under the new changes, visa fees will increase from 310 pounds to 500 pounds for a sponsorship licence for a small employer sponsor, while the cost of a large employer sponsor licence will increase from 1,025 pounds to 1,500 pounds. It is a requirement that immigrants coming to work in the UK under Tier 2 or Tier 5 visas are sponsored by an employer before they can apply for a UK visa.
A new optional Premium Sponsor Scheme will also take effect next month, and will cost 25,000 pounds per year for large employer sponsors and 8,000 pounds per year for small sponsors. The Premium Sponsor Scheme is available for A-rated sponsors who sponsor immigrants on Tier 2 and Tier 5 visas. It allows sponsors to apply and pay for an enhanced levels of customer service. This includes access to a named licence manager and priority access to appointments at UKBA public Enquiry offices. Another benefit is that that Tier 2 and Tier 5 visa applicants whose applications are supported by a Premium Sponsor may request the immediate return of their passports before their applications are decided without this having the effect of withdrawing their applications.
Fees paid by dependants for applications made within the UK will remain at their current level of 50 percent of a main applicant's fee.
Other fee increases include:
Tier 1 General Extensions will increase from 1,000 pounds to 1,500 pounds
Tier 2 visas will increase from 400 pounds to 480 pounds
Tier 2 Intra Company Transfers for less than 12 months will increase from 350 pounds to 400 pounds
Tier 4 visas will increase from 255 pounds to 289 pounds for students and their dependents
Tier 4 Student Visa holders
Those on Tier 4 student visas will in future have greater difficulty remaining in the UK following completion of their studies. The Tier 1 Post-study work visa route which allows Tier 4 student graduates to work for any employer for up to two years will close from 6 April 2012. UK immigration will still offer visas through Tier 2 of the points-based system for graduates. In many cases only graduates who have an offer of a skilled job from a sponsoring employer under Tier 2 of the points-based system will be able to stay and work in the UK.
A new Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur route will be introduced, with up to 1,000 places for students working on world-class innovative ideas who want to stay and develop their ideas but do not meet the requirements of the Tier 1 Entrepreneur route. Entrepreneurs under this new visa route will be able to stay in the UK and switch into the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa if they invest 50,000 pounds in their business. However, it is unlikely many applicants will qualify for this visa route.
UK immigration will also increase the amount of money that Tier 4 visa students, working immigrants, and their dependents must show to support themselves financially during their time in the UK.
Overall these changes mean fewer students will qualify for admission into the UK to study because they may not be able to meet the higher maintenance requirements. Additionally, once students graduate, they will need to switch into visa categories such as the Tier 2 visa category or possibly the Tier 1 entrepreneur category otherwise they may not be able to stay in the UK. As previously mentioned, it is unlikely many students will qualify for the Tier 1 entrepreneur visa, therefore they will probably need to have an offer of a skilled job from a sponsoring employer and then stay in the UK under the Tier 2 visa.
Tier 2 Visas and Settlement
Skilled migrant workers coming to the UK under Tier 2 of the points-based system will no longer be able to settle in the UK simply based on the amount of time they have spent in the UK. There will continue to be a route to permanent residence for some Tier 2 migrants, if they meet a minimum salary threshold of 35,000 pounds.
It is important to note that immigrants doing shortage occupation jobs, and scientists and researchers in PhD-level roles, will be exempt from the 35,000 pounds threshold requirement for permanent residence. Temporary permission to enter and remain in the UK will for many Tier 2 visa holders be capped at 6 years.
A new visitor visa category will be created for professionals coming to the UK for short period of up to one month. Professionals under this new visit visa category would include: Visiting lecturers, visiting examiners or assessors, qualified lawyers providing advocacy, arbitration or alternative form of dispute resolution, or designated overseas air-pilot examiners. No formal sponsorship is required but the proposed work in the UK must be in keeping with the individual's expertise and/or qualifications and main occupation overseas.
Krishmorgan Solicitors are based at 71, Windmill Road, Croydon, Greater London CR0 2XR, United Kingdom. T: 020 8684 9840.