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Important changes to the Tier 1 and Tier 2 visa applications

15 December 2010

On 23 November 2010 the Home Secretary, Teresa May announced a number of changes in respect of the Tier 1 and Tier 2 categories of the points-based system which were  designed to limit the number of non-EU economic migrants coming to the UK.

The following changes will be implemented on 1 April 2011:

Tier 1

  • Tier 1 (General) highly skilled worker route will be closed;
  • Tier 1 ‘exceptional talent’ sub-category will be introduced. This route will cover migrants who have won international recognition in scientific as well as cultural fields with a limit of 1,000 places;
  • Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) route will be reformed to make it more attractive. We will introduce flexibilities and create a new avenue for promising start-up companies which do not meet our investment threshold;
  • Tier 1 (Investor) route will offer an accelerated route to settlement, depending on the level of investment.

There will be no cap on the number of migrants entering under the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) and Tier 1 (Investor) routes.

Tier 2

The Tier 2 (General) route will be subject to a limit of 20,700 places, however, this limit will not apply to the following:

  • in-country applications from those already in the UK;
  • dependants of Tier 2 migrants;
  • Tier 2 (General) applicants who are filling a vacancy with a salary of more than £150,000;
  • Tier 2 (Sportsperson) applicants;
  • Tier 2 (Minister of religion) applicants; and
  • Tier 2 (Intra company transfer) applicants.

Tier 2 Intra Company Transfers

Applicants in the Established staff sub-category will be able to stay in the UK for up to 5 years if they are paid more than £40,000 per year; those paid between £24,000 and £40,000 will be able to enter for up to 12 months within a specified period.

Tier 2 (General) applications will be restricted to only graduate-level vacancies. The existing Tier 2 (General) migrants in jobs below graduate level will be able to extend their permission to stay if they meet current requirements.

The minimum level of English language competency for Tier 2 (General) applications will be increased from basic to intermediate level (B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference).

Further, applications for certificates of sponsorship will, where the limit applies, be considered on a monthly basis. If the monthly allocation is oversubscribed, applications will be processes based on the following criteria:

  • Jobs in shortage occupations;
  • Jobs requiring higher academic qualifications; and
  • Salary on offer.


Please note that very significant change will be introduced for settlement applications, in particular:

  • New criminality threshold whereby all applicants applying for settlement must  be clear of unspent convictions,
  • Tier 1 and Tier 2  holders  will need to meet the salary criteria that applied when they last extended their permission to stay;
  • Skilled and highly skilled migrants will be required to pass the 'Life in the UK' test prior to gaining settlement.

From April 2011 migrants entering the UK under the Tier 1 or Tier 2 category who fail the Knowledge of Life requirement will not be able to extend their stay in the UK. Furthermore, applicants under the Tier 2 (intra company transfer) route will be able to stay in the UK for a maximum period of five years.


Migra & Co is a private immigration company, regulated by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC), reference number F200900038. This website is not a government website and as such, we are not linked or affiliated with the UK Visas and Immigration. We offer expert legal advice and flexible tailored solutions to both private and corporate clients to ensure that their immigration needs are met. If you wish to download or prepare a UK visa application form, you can do so free of charge by visiting the Official UKVI website.