No more automatic settlement for foreign workers
01 March 2012
The government is reforming all routes of entry to the UK in order to 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 come here to work, and introducing changes to the student visa system.
As part of the government's commitment to reviewing the immigration system, last summer a consultation was launched proposing reforms to employment-related settlement, Tier 5 and overseas domestic worker routes.
The proposed changes will mean that 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.
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. Skilled temporary workers wanting 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 threshold. Temporary permission to enter and remain in the UK will be capped at 6 years, to reinforce the temporary nature of Tier 2.
The government also 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 1 month without formal sponsorship requirements.