Immigration rules often carry unique challenges for international assignees. Our latestCartus Mobility Insights includes immigration information about a number of changes to the UK’s Tier 2 visa category and Tier 1. Many of the changes, announced by the UK government, have been implemented this year. However, there are additional amendments scheduled for April 2015 and April 2018, which organisations relocating employees into the UK should be mindful of.
Changes to the Tier 2 System
The Tier 2 system has two categories: Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) (ICT). The visa-type allows UK employers to employ foreign nationals to fill select job roles that cannot be filled by locals. The biggest change to the Tier 2 system is that foreign nationals can now be granted five-year visas when they apply for the first time. Before, they could apply for a maximum of three years on their first application. This is a positive change for international assignees moving to the UK on long-term moves, because it means they will not have to make as many visa applications during the assignment.
An increase in maintenance funds was also introduced on 1 July 2014. When applying for a UK visa, applicants must demonstrate that they have enough money saved to support themselves and dependents (known as maintenance funds). These savings must be in a bank account for three months prior to the visa application. Threshold increases include:
• Tier 2 (General) and (ICT) – £945 (previously £900)
• Tier 2 Dependents – £630 (previously £600)
Closure of Tier 1 (General)
The Tier 1 (General) visa category is due to close. Visa extensions are scheduled to close 6 April 2015 and settlement applications from 6 April 2018. We expect the closure to impact those Tier 1 (General) assignees who travel frequently for business and spend extended time outside the UK. Although these individuals will have until 6 April 2018 to apply for settlement, they will need to have resided in the UK for at least 180 days in each of the previous five years—which may be a challenging requirement for some assignees.
For more details on these amends to UK immigration, download our Cartus Mobility Insights or contact a Cartus representative at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will bring you any additional information and updates as the new and proposed legislative changes unfold.