As mentioned in our previous blog and in response to the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) report, the government released a Statement of Intent which outlines the new UK Immigration Rules based on MAC’s recommendations.

The new changes will be implemented on the 6th April 2013. However please note that although this represents the UK government’s current intentions, this is not a definitive account, it is still subject to minor changes. The final version will be published at a later date separately, on the UKBA website.

Summary of the key changes:

– No changes to the skills threshold for Tier 2. The list of occupations will simply be updated from the old SOC 2000 system to the new SOC 2010 system.

– An increase to the minimum salary threshold for Tier 2. This is necessary before a non-EEA national can be assigned a Certificate of Sponsorship.

– Changes to the appropriate salary rates for occupations where ‘experienced workers’ and, ‘new entrant employees’ will have defined pay thresholds.  However, exceptions will be made for some occupations in the health and education sectors.

– The Resident Labour Market Test has largely remained unchanged. However, it has been decided to replace the current lists of specific publications and websites where vacancies can be advertised, it will be replaced with a set of simple criteria for identifying suitable media.

Please note that if a Sponsor assigns a Certificate of Sponsorship before 6th April 2013, the old Codes of Practice, salary thresholds and advertising criteria will continue to apply. The new Codes of Practice, salary thresholds and advertising criteria will apply to all applications relying on Certificates of Sponsorship assigned by Sponsors on or after 6th April.

Finally, in February 2013, the Immigration Minister Mark Harper proposed fee increases for visa applications made overseas and applications made in the UK.

The fee changes will also come into force from the 6th April 2013.

In the UKBA press release, reference is made to the 'difficult financial context for the UK Border Agency and the government as a whole.' There is no reference, however, as to the effect these increases will have on individuals who may also be struggling due to the economic downturn.

A full list of the fee changes can be found here.  Applicants must always ensure that they pay the correct UK visa fee for any application made, or failure to do so will lead to rejections and delays.

We hope that this summary has been useful but if you wish to read the full list of changes, they can be found in the Statement of Intent. If you are still unclear or have any specific queries, please don’t hesitate to contact us directly for further assistance on 0207 001 2121.