UK News

Immigration update - changes to the immigration rules

March 2012

A recent ministerial statement has set out the changes being made to the Immigration Rules. The majority of these changes come into effect on 6 April 2012.

These changes affect some of the routes used by firms to sponsor employees and students.

The most important changes are summarised below:

Tier 1 (high value migrants)

  • The closure of the Tier 1 (post study work) route to new applicants.
  • The introduction of a Tier 1 (graduate entrepreneur) route.
  • The extension of the annual 1,000 place limit for Tier 1 (exceptional talent) for the next 2 years.

Tier 2 (skilled workers)

  • The introduction of a new £35,000/ appropriate rate minimum pay requirement for Tier 2 (general) and sportsperson migrants who want to settle in the UK from 2016.
  • The introduction of a 12 month cooling off period between the expiry of one visa and when the migrant may apply for a further Tier 2 visa.
  • The introduction of new post-study arrangements for graduates switching to Tier 2.

Tier 4 (students)

  • A requirement that all Tier 4 sponsors must have achieved Highly Trusted Sponsor status and have been inspected by a designated independent body.
  • The introduction of a 5 year limit (subject to certain exceptions) on the period students are able to remain in the UK for the purpose of degree level study.
  • The tightening of restrictions on the duration of work placements for Tier 4 students studying courses below degree level.

Tier 5 (temporary workers)

  • The reduction of the time temporary workers are permitted to stay in the UK on certain government authorised exchange schemes to a maximum of 12 months.
  • Permitting sportspeople who enter under the Tier 5, creative and sporting sub-category, to carry out sports broadcasting work, where they do not fill a permanent position.

General changes

  • An increase in the fees charged by the UK Border Agency.
  • Maintenance requirements under Tiers 1, 2, 4 & 5 are to be increased for the first time since 2008.
  • Introducing mandatory curtailment where a Tier 2, 4 or 5 migrant fails to begin/ceases their work/study with their sponsor.
  • Becoming stricter in imposing curtailment.
  • Introducing a new visitor route which will permit certain individuals to undertake short-term paid engagements in the UK for up to a month.


This article provides an overview of the changes to the UK’s points based system. Should you require any additional information on these changes or you would like to discuss how they will affect your organisation, please contact us.


Statement of intent: changes affecting study, post-study work and maintenance requirements for students and workers

Immigration – changes to the rules affecting students and their sponsors

For further information or to discuss the issues raised, please contact David Widdowson or Stephen Wright on +44 (0)20 3051 5711.