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UK Tier 1 visa likely to become easier

Recently the Migration Advisory Committee completed its review of the Tier 1 visa scheme.

In light of changing economic circumstances the Government had asked MAC to consider changes to Tier 1 for the years 2010/11. MAC feels that Tier 1 is operating well, but also recommended changes to the scheme.

MAC's recommendations for Tier 1 (General) include the following:

  1. Prospective immigrants with a minimum of a bachelors degree should be able to come under Tier 1 if their previous earnings are at a high enough level and if they gain enough points. Currently to come under the Tier 1 visa you need to have at least a masters degree.

  2. Under Tier 1 overseas salaries are converted into a UK equivalent by using "salary multipliers". MAC recommends that the "salary multipliers" are reviewed very soon.

  3. Professional qualifications for example in law and accountancy should be considered equivalent to a masters degree.

  4. There should be a substantial increase in the thresholds under which you can gain points for previous annual earnings. It is recommended that there are no points for anyone with previous annual earnings of below £24,000.

  5. There should be no educational requirements for migrants with previous annual earnings of at least £150,000.

  6. Those applicants who are under 39 years of age should receive points.

  7. Highly Skilled migrants under Tier 1 should only be given two years initial stay in the UK instead of the current three years. If they are in highly skilled employment they should then be able to apply for a three year extension at the end of the two year period.

In addition MAC says that Tier 1 (Post-study work) should continue. This is for migrants who wish to work in the UK after completing their education in the UK. This brings economic benefits to the UK. However MAC suggests that the government whether all courses and colleges should be treated in the same way.

Immigration Minister Phil Woolas had the following to say:

'The MAC has delivered a robust and thorough report, and the government will consider it carefully over the coming weeks.

'The points-based system is a powerful and flexible tool which means that businesses can recruit the skilled foreign workers that the economy needs, but not at the expense of British workers, nor as a cheaper alternative to investing in the skills of the existing workforce.

'Our own research shows that more than eight in ten people who have used Tier 1 of the points-based system were satisfied with the process.'

The Government will consider the recommendations and make an announcement in early 2010. It should be noted that normally the UK Government accepts MAC recommendations in full.