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A plethora of immigration tweaks were announced yesterday, mainly of a technical nature. There is still no sign of the introduction of a minimum income level nor the ending of Tier 2 settlement applications. It is beginning to seem likely that these will be announced at short notice, probably to avoid encouraging applications under the existing rules. Consider yourselves warned.
Changes yesterday included:
- New Tier 1 forms and guidance.
- New facility for in country online applications for Tiers 2 and 5.
- Increase in the amounts required for maintenance for all Tiers and their dependents.
- Replacement of Tier 1 (Post Study Work) with a new scheme. The key requirements will be graduating from a university and an offer of a skilled job at a salary of at least £20,000 (or more in some cases) from a reputable employer accredited by the UK Border Agency.
- Creation of a new Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) route with 1,000 places available in the first year. It seems that the lucky few will be selected by their universities.
- A new limit of five years maximum stay for degree level study, but with significant exceptions including those studying Masters, PhDs and various professional studies. Indeed, one wonders to whom the limit might actually apply in real life, as opposed to Migrationwatch Land.
These changes will take effect on 6 April 2012. The Statement of Intent with all the details can be found here.
These adjustments follow on from the introduction of new fees for immigration applications from the same date, announced last last week. Most of those increases were fairly minor in nature, in line with inflation.