The changes to the Immigration Rules mean that Tier 1 (General) migrants can no longer extend their leave to remain after 5 April 2015 or apply for indefinite leave to remain ("ILR") in the UK after 5 April 2018.
When it opened in 2008, the Tier 1 (General) category was announced as a way to attract the best and the brightest to the UK. Shortly after their election, the current government set about closing the Tier 1 (General) route and it was completely closed to new applicants after April 2011.
Applications before 6th April 2015
Tier 1 (General) visa holders whose current visa expires before 6 April 2015 should apply for an extension in the usual way and if possible before this date. If your current Tier 1 (General) visa expires after April 6 2015 and should you need to extend then you can still apply for an extension but must do so before 6 April 2015. You would be granted further leave to remain for a period of up to 3 years or the period you need to take your total leave granted in this category to 5 years, whichever is the longer.
Switching options under the Points Base System* for the migrants who are unable to apply for leave to remain or potentially Indefinite Leave to Remain before 2018
- Tier 2 (General) - The migrant's employer could sponsor him to remain in the UK under the Tier 2 (General) category. The employer would first need to obtain a sponsor licence and may need to complete the resident labour market test by advertising the position to the UK work force, to show they were unable to find a suitable employee for the role. Time spent under the Tier 1 (General) category can be combined with the Tier 2 (General) leave in order to meet the five year residence requirement for ILR.
- Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) - If the migrant is self-employed or is a director of the registered UK company, or wishes to be so and has £200,000 available to invest in a business in the UK, he may wish to consider the Tier 1(Entrepreneur) category. However, he will need to complete a full five years in this category (unless eligible for accelerated settlement) before becoming eligible for ILR.
- Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) - If the migrant is lucky enough to be exceptionally talented, there is more good news. The immigration rules are being amended to allow Tier 1 (General) migrants to switch in to the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category from within the UK and to combine the time spent in the UK under the previous category in order to meet the residence requirements for ILR. The criteria for the Tier 1(Exceptional Talent) category can be very difficult to meet however and candidates are expected to be leaders in their field or show promise of future exceptionalism.
- Tier 1 (Investor) - Do you have an access to at least £2m? Then you can switch in to the Tier 1(Investor) category. Like the Entrepreneur category, an additional five years will need to be completed unless the migrant is eligible for accelerated settlement.
* Please note there are switching options outside the Points Based System, which might be applicable. Due to the highly individualised nature of each matter, please contact Gherson for further information.