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Recruiting from abroad

7 February 2008

Issues relating to immigration and recruitment from abroad are in the process of undergoing an overhaul. There are currently more than 80 different routes by which non-EEA nationals can come to the UK to work, study or train. In the majority of cases, work permits are issued to a specific UK employer for a named individual to do a specific job.

Following a consultation process last year, the Government has confirmed that a new points based system, similar to that operating in Australia, will begin to be implemented in the UK from 29 February 2008.

The new points based system will consolidate the existing work and study application routes into five tiers. Points will be awarded to reflect aptitude, experience, age and also the level of need in any given sector. In due course financial securities may be required for specific categories, where there has been evidence of abuse, to ensure that migrants return home at the end of their stay.

The new points based system, will allow migrants to come to the UK under one of five tiers:

  • Tier 1 - caters for highly skilled migrants such as scientists and entrepreneurs. This is the first tier to be rolled out - any highly skilled foreign nationals currently working in the UK who want to extend their stay will have to apply under this tier of the new system
  • Tier 2 - targeting skilled workers with a job offer to fill gaps in the UK labour market (e.g. nurses, teachers, engineers) is expected to be introduced in the third quarter of 2008
  • Tier 3 - for low skilled workers filling specific temporary labour shortages (e.g. construction workers for a particular project); numbers will be limited in this tier
  • Tier 4 - for students. This is expected to be introduced at the beginning of 2009
  • Tier 5 - for youth mobility and temporary workers (e.g. working holidaymakers or musicians coming to play a concert) and is also expected to be introduced in the third quarter of 2008

Tiers 3 and 5 are temporary routes and people in them will not be able to switch out of them once they are in the UK.

Those in tiers 1, 2 and 4 will be eligible to switch between these tiers subject to meeting the requirements of the tier they wish to switch to.

Tiers 1 and 2 can potentially lead to settlement if settlement requirements are met at the time of that application.

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The content on this page is provided for the purposes of general interest and information. It contains only brief summaries of aspects of the subject matter and does not provide comprehensive statements of the law. It does not constitute legal advice and does not provide a substitute for it.

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