February 28, 2012

On February 13, 2012, the UK Border Agency (UKBA) announced revised guidance notes governing new processing requirements for Tier 1 applicants. In addition, on April 6, 2012, revised UKBA guidelines will be implemented for foreign students in Tier 1 (Post-Study) and Tier 4 (Student) schemes.

What’s Changed?

Revised Guidance Notes for Tier 1 Visa Applications

According to the current guidance, should a Tier 1 visa applicant not provide all the correct documents, the UKBA may contact him or her to request the missing documents. Should the applicant fail to send the missing documents, the application may be denied.

The new guidance states that UKBA will contact the applicant or their representative in writing under the following circumstances:

  1. If  he or she has submitted a sequence of documents, and has omitted some of the documents in the said sequence (for example, if one bank statement from a series is missing);
  2. A submitted document is in wrong format;
  3. A document was submitted as a copy instead of the original.

The applicant or his representative should provide any requested documents to the UKBA processing center within seven working days, otherwise their application may be denied. Should the missing documents not be received within seven working days, the UKBA will not send another request and the application will be refused.

The Tier 1 (General) guidance also included a change to the list of governing bodies for accountants.

Additionally, the application form and policy guidance for Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) have been revised to allow applicants to use money invested in a UK business while they were there in a different immigration category towards the funds necessary for an entrepreneur visa application.

Applicants may now use the new form. However, the UKBA will continue to accept applications made on the previous version of the form up to and including March 5, 2012.

New Rules for Tier 4 and Tier 1 Visas for Students

Currently, students in the Tier 1 (post-study work) scheme can work in the UK for up to two years after completion of their university studies and having the equivalent of at least £2,800 in personal, available funds.

Companies are advised that as of April 6, 2012, a more selective system will allow only the most talented graduates to apply to stay in the UK for the purposes of either developing new business or industry opportunities or filling sponsored, professional level positions earning an annual base salary of at least £20,000.

Specific changes include:

  • University students wishing to remain in the UK to work may apply under the existing Tier 1 (Post-Study) scheme prior to April 5, 2012. 
  • For graduate students, after April 5, 2012, a new Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) scheme will be introduced for those who have been identified by UK universities as having developed world-class, innovative ideas or entrepreneurial skills, but who are not yet in a position to meet the full requirements of the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) route. This will allow them to develop their businesses in the UK.
  • University graduates applying under the Tier 2 (General) scheme must possess a recognized bachelor’s or postgraduate degree from an accredited British university and have a skilled job offer from a UK company licensed with the UKBA.  Job offers must evidence an annual, base salary of at least £20,000.
  • The prescribed amounts of maintenance funds for students and working immigrants and their dependents will be increased to reflect the cost of living in the UK. These requirements will be reviewed annually.
  • A student on a Tier 4 Student Visa, studying at a university degree level, will be restricted to a general limit of 5 years.

ACTION ITEMS FOR EMPLOYERS

As of February 13, 2012, in cases where (1) none of the required information has been submitted (for example an English language certificate is missing) or (2) where UKBA do not anticipate that a correction of minor errors or emissions will lead to an approval because the application would be denied for other reasons, applicants will no longer be contacted by the UKBA to request further information.

Pro-Link GLOBAL reminds its clients to provide all required documents/ information and to double-check the entire application package prior to submitting to the UKBA for processing.  Failure to provide the appropriate documentation may result in processing and/or rejection of the submission. Pro-Link GLOBAL will be happy to help its clients review the application documentation and assist them throughout the whole application process.

This news alert was provided in coordination with our UK KGNM–Sarah Buttler Associates.

Caveat Lector | Warning to Reader 

This content is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or final guidance for any immigration matter. Readers are reminded that a country’s immigration laws and requirements may change with little to no advance public notice. Questions regarding specific immigration matters should be addressed to your Pro-Link GLOBAL specialist.