Dear Mr Bassie,
I intend to migrate to the United Kingdom under Tier 2 of the points-based system. I understand there have been some changes as it relates to settlement for skilled workers and others hoping to get settlement through employment. Could you please advise me of any significant changes that are on the horizon.
Your query is timely and appropriate. Most recently, in fact, this year, the United Kingdom Government has taken a position that will result in the end of automatic settlement for skilled workers.
This decision came as a result of a consultation started in the summer of 2011 that proposed reforms to employment-related settlement, Tier 5 and overseas domestic worker routes.
The United Kingdom government has announced that there will be several proposed changes. The government has stated that skilled migrant workers going to the United Kingdom under Tier 2 of the points-based system will no longer be able to settle in the United Kingdom based solely on the amount of time that he or she has already spent there.
In addition, there will be a new minimum-pay threshold which will also mean that only the brightest and best workers, who are able to strengthen the economy of the United Kingdom, will be able to apply to stay in the United Kingdom permanently.
The British government hopes that the proposed new rules will break the link between going to the United Kingdom to work and over-staying. The proposed rules will also allow exceptionally talented people, investors and entrepreneurs to continue to have the option to stay. Also, skilled temporary workers who want to apply for settlement will have to earn at least £35,000 or get the going rate for their job, whichever is higher. It should also be noted that the migrants doing jobs for which there is a labour shortage, and scientists and researchers in PhD-level roles, will also be exempt from the £35,000 threshold. In addition, temporary permission to enter and remain in the United Kingdom will be capped at six years, to reinforce the temporary nature of Tier 2.
The British government regards settlement in the United Kingdom as a privilege and the notion that everyone who goes there to work can settle is incorrect; instead this privilege should be reserved for the brightest and best. The reforms of the immigration system will result in there being a more careful selection of not only those who wish to go to the United Kingdom, but also those who wish to stay there permanently.
However, the British government intends to continue to provide a direct route to settlement for investors, entrepreneurs and exceptionally talented migrants under Tier 1, and also to continue to provide a route to settlement for the best Tier-2 migrants, if they are able to meet a minimum-salary threshold of £35,000.
The British government will also allow those who enter as PhD-level scientists and researchers to qualify for settlement without having to meet the £35,000 minimum salary threshold.
'Cooling off' period
Furthermore, the government plans to make all workers in shortage-occupation jobs, which currently include specialist nurses, teachers and social workers, exempt from the minimum settlement salary threshold of £35,000; and allow Tier-2 migrants to extend their temporary permission to stay in the United Kingdom for up to a maximum of six years, and introduce a 12-month 'cooling off' period.
With respect to household workers the government intends to retain a route for overseas domestic workers in private households, but only when such a person is accompanying a visitor and that person will be limited to six months' stay and will have no right to change employer; and it is intended that there be a retention of the current route of entry for private servants in diplomatic households under Tier 5, that is temporary worker - international agreement, with a maximum stay of five years and no ability to change employer or to settle in the United Kingdom.
In addition to the foregoing, the British government propose to make changes to the visitor rules and intends 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.
It is apparent that the British government is reforming all routes of entry to the United Kingdom and it is the government's aim to reduce migration from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands.
John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a Supreme Court-appointed mediator, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and a chartered arbitrator. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.