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UKBA defiant: Tier 1 General Scheme will cease overseas on 23 December 2010!

21 December 2010

On 17 December 2010, the High Court (HC) found the interim cap imposed on Tier 1 and Tier 2 entry clearance applications to be unlawful since the measure was not subjected to Parliamentary scrutiny. Following this positive judgment, migrants' expectations were significantly raised as many individuals were unable to apply due to the 600 monthly quota imposed on the Tier 1 General Scheme. Similarly, Tier 2 Sponsors have been prevented from issuing Certificates of Sponsorship beyond their allocations.

However, the UK Border Agency has decided to stick to its guns and although it's not yet clear whether it might seek to appeal the HC's decision, it announced today that it will stop accepting Tier 1 General applications made overseas as of 23 December 2010. The alleged goal is to avoid exceeding the limit set for Tier 1 (General) applications between 19 July 2010 and April 2011.

Immigration Minister Damian Green said:

'This judgment does not affect the annual cap in any way. The interim limit was a temporary measure introduced specifically to tackle a rush of applications ahead of the introduction of the annual limit.[...] The government remains firmly committed to reducing net migration to the tens of thousands.'

In a nutshell, this means the implausible situation whereby as of today there is no cap on Tier 1, however as of the 23 December the Tier 1 General will stop to exist for  prospective overseas applicants.

The government has also set a limit until 5 April 2011 on the number of certificates of sponsorship that are available to licensed Tier 2 sponsors. The threshold will be 10,832 and the changes will have immediate effect.

This appears to fly in the face of the recent judgment, however it remains to be seen whether the UKBA's game will pay off or be again challenged in the court of law.

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