On 6th April 2014 the Home Office enacted rules which will bring the curtain down on the Tier1 General Migrant visa scheme and its predecessor category, the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP), introduced by the previous Labour government. It forms part of the drive by the Home Secretary, Theresa May, to reduce net migration to the tens of thousands by the 2015 general election.
From 6th April 2015, Tier 1 General and HSMP visa holders will no longer be able to apply for further extensions of stay in this category. The timing for introducing the rule is debatable given the general election must be held by May 2015.
The Tier 1 General visa route closed for new applicants on 5 April 2011. Therefore, applicants who obtained a Tier 1 General visa prior to 5 April 2011 will be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain by 6 April 2016.
So who will this rule change affect? The answer must be for those who cannot satisfy the criteria for indefinite leave and require an extension of stay. In our view, this is most likely to affect those who cannot meet the requirement to have been in the UK for a continuous period of 5 years, as they have been working abroad or otherwise have criminal convictions. However, they will have the opportunity to apply for one last extension of leave.
On the same day, the Home Office introduced a rule that all applications for indefinite leave to remain under the Tier 1 General and HSMP visa category must be made by 6 April 2018, thereby formally ending the scheme designed to attract highly skilled individuals to the UK. This comes at a time when the economic outlook for the UK appears to be improving amidst reports that employers in surveying, management, engineering and the nursing sectors are facing skill shortages to employ skilled workers.
If you require legal assistance with a Tier 1 application, please contact David Robinson or Evan Remedios, specialist UK immigration solicitors, on +44 (0)20 7038 3980, by email at email@example.com or via our online contact form.