The Home Office has announced that:
From 2002, highly skilled people who met certain education and earnings thresholds were able to apply to come to the UK to look for work and self-employment opportunities, under the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme which was then subsequently renamed the Tier 1 (General) scheme. The Home Office closed the Tier 1 (General) scheme to overseas applicants in December 2010 and to applicants from within the UK in March 2011. However, individuals who were already in the UK under the Tier 1 (General) scheme when it closed have always been able to extend their permission to live and work in the UK.
As a result of the Home Office announcement, Tier 1 (General) migrants will need to consider their options carefully before 6 April 2015. If a migrant's leave to remain will expire before 6 April 2015, an extension application can be submitted in the usual way. If a migrant's leave to remain will expire after 6 April 2015, it may be possible to submit an early extension application subject to the migrant satisfying the relevant Tier 1 (General) criteria. Migrants will need to consider the impact which any early extension application may have on their overall immigration strategy. Extensions will be granted for 2 or 3 years depending on when the migrant was last granted leave to remain under the Tier 1 (General) rules.
A Tier 1 (General) migrant with five years' continuous residence in the UK may qualify for ILTR if he meets all of the requirements of the Tier 1 (General) and ILTR rules before 6 April 2018. If the migrant does not qualify for ILTR before 6 April 2018 or before the expiry of the extended Tier 1 (General) status (if sooner), then he will need to look to alternative immigration schemes – such as Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) or Tier 2 (General) – in order to extend his leave to remain in the UK.
We strongly recommend that all employers undertake a thorough audit of all migrant workers and put in place an appropriate strategy to ensure that all Tier 1 (General) migrants submit appropriate applications before the above deadlines or otherwise put in place contingency arrangements.
Bird & Bird has extensive experience in advising on a wide range of immigration issues and applications, as well as supporting businesses and senior executives with their overall HR strategies of which these form a part – working seamlessly alongside our international Employment, Tax and Employee Incentives & Benefits teams to do so. Our Business Immigration team is international and covers the 18 countries where the firm has a presence, in addition to a large number of others where we have alliance relationships in place, providing a complete ' global mobility' service.