With the introduction of a points-based system the rules relating to people coming to work or set themselves up in business in the UK have changed. There are now different tiers within the rules for workers and self employed individuals. Further changes have recently been made abolishing applications for Tier 1 (General) applications from outside or from within the United Kingdom. They have also set upper limits on the number of Certificates of Sponsorships that are available to licensed Tier 2 sponsors.
Extreme care must now be taken in making applications under these tiers as the UK Border Agency has been applying rules relating to the provision of supporting evidence very strictly. There are also specific rules relating to the maintenance requirements for applicants when they first arrive in the UK. Unfortunately a good numbers of applications are being refused because of the failure by applicants to provide all of the information and documentation requested or because of a failure to meet the maintenance requirements.
For those who were previously granted leave to enter or remain under one of the old categories who are now seeking to extend their leave under the new system can apply under special rules
Tier 1 (General) – formerly the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme
On 23 December 2010 and 5 April 2011, this category was closed to applicants from outside and inside the UK respectively. Always seek legal advice as there may be other ways in which you can come to the UK on the basis of a business or self-employment. Those who already hold a Tier 1 (General) visa may still apply for further leave to remain in the UK or indefinite leave if they meet the necessary requirements.
Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) and Tier 1 (Investor)
Old provisions relating to individuals who want to come to the UK either to set themselves up in business or to invest a substantial sum of money are now replaced by these separate categories in the points-based system. Amongst other requirements, applicants wishing to set up in business need a minimum of £200,000 (or in certain specific circumstances £50,000) available for the establishment of that business and those who wish to come as investors need a minimum of £1,000,000 available for such investment. For more information about the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category and about the Tier 1 (Investor) category, go to the UK Border Agency website.
Tier 2 – formerly the Work Permit Scheme
There are now upper limits on the number of Certificates of Sponsorship that will be available to licensed Tier 2 sponsors under Tier 2. This category allows a UK-based employer to employ an overseas national in a particular job so long as certain conditions are met. Only employers who have obtained a sponsorship license from the UK Border Agency to employ Tier 2 workers are eligible to take advantage of this system. Further information about the sponsorship licensing procedure can be found on the UK Border Agency website.
The resident labour market requirements still apply within this category. What this means is that an employer who has obtained a sponsorship license may hire overseas nationals but must usually demonstrate that they have attempted and failed to hire someone from the resident labour market. An employer must also demonstrate that the vacancy is genuine and that the applicant has suitable experience and/or qualifications. Employers employing Tier 2 workers are obligated to report to the UK Border Agency any relevant changes in the circumstances of such employee. If an employer issues a ‘Certificate of Sponsorship’, the employee will still need to obtain either a visa or permission from the Home Office to reside in the UK to use it.
Tier 5 – Temporary workers
Other groups of workers seeking to come to the UK for limited periods of time may apply under this category. These include those working in the creative and sporting fields, religious and charity workers and those coming on various short term schemes authorised by the British government or international agreement, including youth mobility schemes (which have replaced the former Commonwealth working holidaymaker scheme). For further information go to the UK Border Agency website.
For those individuals who may wish to use visitor’s status to come to the United Kingdom on a short term basis to carry out work-related activities may do so under the business and special visitors category. For more information about these categories and the activities which they may undertake as visitors in the UK go to the UK Border Agency website.
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