Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP)
The Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP) is designed to help the UK win the “war for talent”. Under the HSMP an individual with exceptional skills and talents can come to the UK to take up employment or set up in business free from much of the regulation affecting other immigration categories. Weighted in favour of applicants under 28 years of age, the scheme was radically amended on 31 October 2003.
A points based system of qualification is used to assess applications. Points can be scored in five areas, and to make a successful application, the applicant will need to provide evidence that they score 65 points or more in the areas described below. They must also be able to demonstrate that they will be able to continue their chosen career in the UK, that they can support themselves and any family without recourse to public funds during their stay in the UK, and that they are willing and able to make the UK their main home.
A maximum of 30 points can be scored in this field: 30 points are awarded for a PhD qualification, 25 for a masters degree and 15 for a bachelors degree.
For applicants over the age of 28, a maximum of 50 points can be scored for 10 years or more graduate level work experience. At least 5 years of this experience should be at a senior or specialist level, (this is reduced to three years if the applicant holds a phd). For those applicants who have been in employment for less than 10 years, 25 points can be scored for graduate level work experience of at least five years but it should be stressed that this will increase to 35 points if two years experience is at a senior or specialist level.
It is easier for applicants under the age of 28 to score points in this category with a maximum of 50 points for 4 years or more graduate level work experience, at least 1 year of which should be at a senior or specialist level. 35 points can be scored for 4 years graduate level work experience or 25 points for a minimum of 2 years work experience.
For applicants over the age of 28, a maximum of 50 points is available under this category which requires the applicant to demonstrate a minimum earned income in their country of residence. In order to account for varying levels of income level across the world, the level required to qualify varies depending on where the applicant lives. The entry level salary for scoring points in this category is £40,000 in the UK or its equivalent in the applicant’s country of usual residence, e.g. in Korea this would equate to £17,500. Unearned income, property rental income and interest on savings or funds or undeclared income will not be taken into account when calculating income in this category. Official revenue documentation must be produced to show that all income was declared for taxation purposes. Salaries are converted into sterling using an average exchange rate.
It is easier for applicants under the age of 28 to score points in this category with the entry level salary threshold being reduced to the equivalent of £27,000.
Achievement in the applicant’s chosen field
A maximum of 25 points is available in this category, available to a few select individuals who will be able to demonstrate that they have obtained exceptional achievement in their chosen field and are at the top of their profession; they should be recognised beyond their field of expertise and have obtained international recognition. Evidence must be adduced to support such achievements.
If an applicant can demonstrate significant achievement, i.e. have developed a body of work that is recognised by his/her peers as contributing significantly to the development of expertise in their area, this will attain a maximum of 15 points. Again, evidence of such achievement must be provided.
HSMP priority applications
This category allows the government to introduce specific areas to encourage people with a particular skill or profession to move to work in the UK. At the moment, General Medical Practitioners are encouraged to apply under this category. A maximum of 50 points is available and supporting evidence will again be required.
Recent MBA graduates from a prescribed list of global colleges can benefit from the priority provisions and obtain an automatic 65 points. Evidence of graduate will be required, e.g. degree certificate or if not yet available, an academic reference.
If the applicant’s spouse or unmarried partner is educated to degree level or has previously been employed in full time employment in a graduate level position, a further 10 points will be awarded.
Applying from outside the UK. The HSMP application must be lodged directly to WPUK in Sheffield. Once approval has been received, the applicant must then apply to his/her local British visa issuing post for permission to enter the UK as an highly skilled migrant.
Apply from within the UK. Where an individual is in the UK either as a student or in a category of immigration permission which can lead to settlement, e.g. work permit holder (but importantly not as a visitor or business visitor) the application can be lodged directly to WPUK. Once an applicant has been recognised as an highly skilled migrant, they must make a second application for permission to remain.
The Home Office charges a non-refundable fee of £315 to process an highly skilled migrant application plus a further £335 for processing in-country immigration permission by post, or £500 by Fast Track same day service.
If successful, the applicant will initially be granted leave to remain in the UK for a 12 month period. Before that leave expires, an extension application can be lodged with the Home Office extending this period by a further four years.
Once an individual has remained in the UK for five years under this category, they will be eligible to apply for permanent residence in the usual way. Time spent in the UK as a work permit holder or under one of the business categories can be aggregated towards the five year period.
Please contact David Robinson or Evan Remedios on +44 (0)20 7038 3980 or at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to discuss your immigration requirements.
DISCLAIMER: The information on this brief guide is correct to the best of our knowledge and belief. However, it is written as a general guide only and it is strongly recommended that specific advice is sought before action is taken.