Personal Immigration

Changes affecting post-study work

In a recent statement of intent, the government has announced more details of its planned changes to Tier 1 (Post Study Work) of the points-based system.

Tier 1 (Post Study Work) will close to new applicants on 5 April 2012. In its place, from 6 April 2012, Tier 2 (General) will be open to recent graduates with a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree, PhD, or a PGCE or PGDE, from a UK recognised or listed body.  As per the normal Tier 2 requirements, applicants must have an offer of a skilled job from a licensed sponsor and be paid at least £20,000 or the minimum appropriate rate set out in the relevant Code of Practice. However, the employer will not have to complete a resident labour market test and the jobs will not be subject to the annual limit on Tier 2 numbers (i.e. the Certificates of Sponsorship will be in the Unrestricted category).

Migrants using this route will be able to sponsor new dependants, on the same terms as other Tier 2 migrants. They may continue to sponsor any dependants whom they sponsored as a Tier 4 migrant.

Tier 4 Dependants will continue to be able to switch into Tier 2 employment in their own right, but will be subject to the Tier 2 limit. Tier 4 migrants will be able to switch into Tier 2, as described above, once they have been awarded their qualification. In-country switching from Tier 4 to Tier 2 will not be permitted for those who have not completed their studies, except for PhD students who, as now, must have completed at least 12 months of study.

A migrant who wishes to switch to Tier 2 from Tier 4 may start work as a student with the Tier 2 employer if their Tier 4 leave is still valid and allows them to work. The employers should however not offer a permanent contract until the Tier 2 application is approved. If a migrant wishes to undertake a period of professional training following a course of study in order to obtain a professional qualification, this can be done by switching into Tier 2. If this is not possible, the relevant sector body may seek to establish a dedicated scheme within Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange) to allow further training prior to return overseas. It is not possible to switch from Tier 5 to Tier 2, but the governments intends to make provision for switching from Tier 4 to Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange) to allow this professional training to take place.

Further details of the replacement for the Tier 1 (Post Study Work) category will be available once the changes to the relevant Immigration Rules have been laid on 15 March 2012.

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