UK Immigration Changes Affect Filipinos

by Michael Duque
(London, UK)

Changes in the UK immigration system will significantly affect a large number of overseas visitors, including Filipinos, in the United Kingdom. Changes include tougher entrance criteria, limits on work entitlements and the closure of the post-study work route in the student visa system.

UK Home Secretary Theresa May announced the changes in July 2011 after a Home Office review revealed widespread abuse of the points-based system.

The main changes are as follows:

  • Students coming to study at degree level will need to speak English at an 'upper intermediate' (B2) level, rather than the current 'lower intermediate' (B1) requirement.

  • All other students will have no right to work. There will be restrictions on work placements in courses outside universities.

  • Only postgraduate students at universities and government-sponsored students will be able to bring their dependants.

  • There will be a limit to the overall time that can be spent on a student visa to 3 years at lower levels (as it is now) and 5 years at higher levels.

  • Tier 1 (post-study work) route, which allows students 2 years to seek employment after their course ends, will be closed.

The Home Secretary said that the changes re-focus the student route as a temporary one, available to only the brightest and best. The Home Secretary added that the new system is designed to ensure students come for a limited period, to study, not work, and make a positive contribution while they are in the UK.

Further changes in Immigration rules states that migrants coming to the UK to work on temporary visas will no longer be able to apply for settlement, under proposals announced by the government recently.

The government is implementing reforms to the immigration system which will reduce the level of immigration to sustainable levels. Immigration Minister Damian Green set out plans to re-classify visas as either 'temporary' or 'permanent' and introduce stricter criteria for those who want to stay.

Immigration Minister Damian Green said that the proposals are aimed at breaking the link between temporary and permanent migration. The Immigration Minister further said that the UK wants the brightest and best workers to come to the UK, make a strong contribution to the economy while they are here, and then return home.

Key proposals are as follows:
  • Re-branding Tier 2 (the skilled worker route) as temporary, ending the assumption that settlement will be available for those who enter on this route;

  • Allowing certain categories of Tier 2 migrant, for example those earning over £150,000 or occupations of a specific economic or social value to the UK, to retain an automatic route to settlement;

  • Allowing Tier 2 migrants who do not switch into a settlement route to stay for a maximum of five years with the expectation that they and any dependants will leave at the end of that time;

  • Introducing an English language requirement for adult dependants of Tier 2 migrants applying to switch into a route to settlement;

  • Restricting the maximum period of leave for Tier 5 Temporary Workers to 12 months; and

  • Closing the visa for overseas domestic workers.

These reforms will limit the number of migrants who will be able to stay permanently in the UK and bring immigration levels under control.

Current rules also do not allow changing from one visa category to another (i.e. student visa to work permit or residence permit). Application for visa changes is done in the country or port of origin and is often not allowed in-country in the UK.

Please disseminate this to help prevent illegal and misleading recruitment practices targeting Filipinos.

Michael Duque
President, PNA UK
06th July 2011

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