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UK will abolish automatic residency for migrant workers | Immigration Matters

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The UK Immigration Minister Damian Green has today published the government’s response to last year’s consultation looking at reforms to automatic ‘employment-related settlement’, which is to abolish it. 

Mr Green said that the changes will mean that skilled migrant workers coming to the UK under Tier 2 of the points-based system will no longer be able to settle in the UK simply based on the amount of time they have spent in the UK. 

Until now, migrant workers on work permits or domestic worker visas have come to expect that they could apply for permanent residence (indefinite leave to remain) after 5 years, and for British Citizenship a year later. 

Home Secretary Theresa May said the change – from April 2016 – would help cut the number of non-Europeans and their dependants granted settlement each year from 60,000 to 20,000.

But under these radical changes a new minimum pay threshold will also mean that only the ‘brightest and best’ workers, who strengthen the UK economy, will be able to apply to stay in the UK permanently. 

The new rules effectively break the link between coming to the UK to work and staying forever, the Immigration Minister said. 

Exceptionally talented people, investors and entrepreneurs will continue to have the option to stay. 

Only skilled temporary workers earning at least £35,000 (or the going rate for their job, whichever is higher) will be able to apply for settlement. 

Migrants doing jobs which are on the shortage occupations list, and scientists and researchers in PhD-level roles, will be exempt from the £35,000 threshold. Temporary permission to enter and remain in the UK will be capped at 6 years, to reinforce the temporary nature of Tier 2. 

Damian Green said: 

‘Settlement in the UK is a privilege. We are sweeping aside the idea that everyone who comes here to work can settle, and instead reserving this important right only for the brightest and best. 

‘Our reforms of the immigration system will ensure we are more selective not only about those who are allowed to come here but also those who are allowed to stay permanently.’ 

The government intends to: 

  • continue to provide a direct route to settlement for investors, entrepreneurs and exceptionally talented migrants under Tier 1.
  • continue to provide a route to settlement for the best Tier 2 migrants, if they meet a minimum salary threshold of £35,000.
  • allow those who enter as PhD-level scientists and researchers to qualify for settlement without having to meet the £35,000 minimum salary threshold.
  • make all workers in shortage occupation jobs (currently including specialist nurses, teachers and social workers) exempt from the minimum settlement salary threshold of £35,000;
  • allow Tier 2 migrants to extend their temporary permission to stay in the UK up to maximum of 6 years, and introduce a 12-month ‘cooling off’ period;
  • retain a route for overseas domestic workers in private households, but only when accompanying a visitor and limited to 6 months’ stay with no right to change employer;
  • retain the current route of entry for private servants in diplomatic households under Tier 5 (Temporary worker – International agreement), with a maximum stay of 5 years and no ability to change employer or to settle.

Also planned are changes to the visitor rules to allow a defined group of professionals to undertake specific fee-paid activities for short stays of up to 1 month without formal sponsorship requirements. 

Domestic Workers

The government says it will also restrict the arrival of foreign domestic workers to those who are travelling with their employers, such as diplomats or business people temporarily working in the UK.

Mrs May said: “We recognise that the ODW (overseas domestic worker) routes can at times result in the import of abusive employer/employee relationships to the UK.

“It is important that those who use these routes to bring their staff here understand what is and is not acceptable. So we will be strengthening pre-entry measures to ensure that domestic workers and their employers understand their respective rights and responsibilities.”

Under the new rules, overseas domestic workers who come to the UK with their employer must leave after six months. Those working in diplomats’ households can stay for up to five years. The workers will not be able to extend their stay, switch employer, sponsor dependants or seek settlement.

The plans form part of government’s target to reduce net migration from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands. 

Since the coalition came to power they have changed the Immigration Rules in order to slash the number of migrants from outside the European Union who can come here to work, and introducing sweeping changes to the Tier 4 student visa system. 

Full details of the proposals, a summary of responses to the consultation, and Damian Green’s written ministerial statement can all be found on the Home Office website.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said of the new salary cap: “People should only be allowed to settle in this country under these rules if they can pay their way, live by our rules and contribute value to our country. We need strict controls, properly enforced, and all of the mainstream parties should agree on that.”

UK Independence Party home affairs spokesman, Gerard Batten MEP, said the government was “posturing” on immigration because any measures cannot apply to EU citizens.

He said: “The solution is for Britain to take back control of its immigration policy so that we can decide who we admit, for how long, and under what conditions. We can only do that we leave the EU and repudiate the European Court of Justice.”

The rule changes will not affect Bulgarian and Romanian exercising European Treaty Rights on Yellow Cards.

See also:

Cap on skilled worker permits to remain unchanged Migration Advisory Committee recommends

Three times more Intra-Company migrants coming to UK than skilled worker Tier 2 visas

EU and non-EU workers take more UK jobs as number of Britons in work plunges

UK’s Tier 2 immigration rules could see EU chefs cooking your Indian curry

Immigration Rules for Bulgarian and Romanian nationals

7 tips for completing a Yellow Card BR1 application to work and study in the UK

Yellow or Blue Card Refused – Appeal or Reapply?

Employment restrictions for Bulgarians and Romanians extended until end of 2013

If you need any immigration advice or help with Sponsorship or Work Permits, Visa, ILR/Settlement, Citizenship, dependant visa or an appeal against a refusal please email: or visit

Majestic College offer special packages for EU students. They also have a number of employers looking for staff right now and are willing to employ Bulgarians and Romanians.

For more information call Joanna on 0208 207 1020 or email 

Overseas students and workers can qualify for a tax refund

You could qualify for a tax refund if you are an overseas student, work permit holder, Tier 1, Yellow or Blue Card holder – in fact any visa type – even if you are no longer legal or even in the UK!

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6 Responses to “UK will abolish automatic residency for migrant workers”
Read them below or add one

  1. […] UK will abolish automatic residency for migrant workers […]

  2. […] have decided to abolish automatic ‘employment-related settlement’ in the UK, making these changes the most significant immigration reforms for many […]

  3. […] government has proposed setting a limit of £35,000 pounds annual salary for non-EU workers to qualify for permanent residency (ILR) in the UK at the end of the qualifying period of five years, which may further deter skilled […]

  4. […] last proposed setting a limit of £35,000 pounds annual salary for non-EU workers to qualify for permanent residency (ILR) in the UK at the end of the qualifying period of five […]

  5. Paul Ashby says :

    Mr Green & Mrs. May,

    Thank you for giving this proposals, frankly speaking salary of £35,000.00 for the brightest and the best is too cheap and low and thousands of people shall be able to make very easily.

    So now in order to invest in settlement the total tax and NI to be paid is just £12,464.62. So instead of applying to university with the fees of £9,000.00 with gloomy prospects, please can invest additional £3,000.00 which is not a big deal and get the settlement fairly easily. Frankly the government has got this horribly wrong and they are inviting whole new pool if investors with £35,000.00. The best example of brightest & best is IT contractors who earns avg of £500.00 PER DAY. £35,000 in today day with inflation is nothing and after 4 years in 2016 will be peanuts.

    As per my opinion the target can only be achieved, when the tax payable will be far more to show the salary of £35,000.00


    Many thanks fo reading.

  6. […] UK will abolish automatic UK residency for migrant workers […]

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