BRITAIN has announced a new student policy which points to plans to restrict the current Post-Study Work Migrant programme from April 2012. The purpose of the new reforms is to encourage graduates who have studied in the United Kingdom to stay on and do skilled or highly-skilled work.
Readers will remember the requirements for either leave to enter or to remain under this category. I shall not concern myself with these requirements here with these requirements, suffice to indicate that the applicant must score a minimum points under Appendix A, B and C. These mainly relate to: Attributes, English language and Maintenance (funds).
Whilst it has not been problematic to satisfy most of requirements where leave to remain was being sought, it will be noted that the perennial problem seems to have centred on the £800 requirement (This has been discussed extensively by colleagues in the legal fraternity).
Be that as it may, what the new student policy says is that this current arrangement will be removed and those graduating from a United Kingdom university will be able to switch into Tier 2. It must be remembered that the purpose of the Tier 2 route is to enable United Kingdom employers to recruit workers from outside the EEA in order to fill a particular vacancy that cannot be filled by a British/EEA or settled worker.
The requirements of this route are generally known and I will not be going through them here as well, suffice to mention the particular important requirement for employers to satisfy the Resident Labour Market Test. This is the process an employer must follow before employing a person who is not a permanent resident of the United Kingdom if he or she is first required to show that no resident worker could be found to take a particular job. The fact that employers will not be required to satisfy this test may be viewed in a positive way as it widely opens the job market to students from outside the EEA area.
The new policy indicates that the normal Tier 2 requirements will continue to apply except for the Resident Labour Market Test. However, what is also pertinent to note is that applicants will only be able to switch if they are in the United Kingdom before their current student visa expires. What it means, therefore, is that current students who want to exercise their right to switch to Post Study Work Migrant must take note of these requirements and make sure that all supporting documentary evidence is in place by the time of the intended application.
Another interesting aspect that may be a source of worry to current students who may want to switch to Tier 2 Migrant is the so called immigration cap or whether in pursuit of this policy the UK Border Agency will impose a limit on switchers. The good news is that there will not be a limit to those who can switch.
Readers will be aware of my previous article when I gave a critique of the immigration cap policy, especially as it relates to those applicants from the Commonwealth countries, who by virtue of historical links may be deemed more closer than most EEA countries, yet appear as being treated unfairly when it comes to exercising their right to stay in the United Kingdom. Whilst it is the UK’s right to frame its immigration rules as it pleases, and in this regard could have applied a cap, it must be applauded that the Secretary of State saw it prudent that the immigration cap will not be activated in this instance and this must obviously allow all those who meet the requirements of switching to Tier 2 to be processed.
Tied to this discussion is also the debate on what happens to current Post Study Work Migrants. The immigration rules provide that one can be assigned certificate of sponsorship and score 30 points if switching from Tier 1 (Post-Study Work). Conditions attached here are that you must have worked for your current sponsor for a continuous period of at least six months immediately before the date of your application and you must be applying to continue to work in the same job that you are doing in the UK on your application date.
The important point to note is that if your application is approved, you will be given permission to remain in the United Kingdom for a maximum of three years or the time given on your certificate of sponsorship plus 14 days, whichever is shorter. Following up on this obviously is the fact that you may be able to extend this leave as appropriate until you are granted Indefinite Leave to Remain.
However, since this article has been concerned with those who are yet to enter the Post-Study Work category, it must also be highlighted that, the UK Border Agency nevertheless remains committed to ensure that those students with exceptional entrepreneurial ideas would be able to remain in the United Kingdom in order to turn their business ideas into concrete projects. On this basis, it is hoped the quandary currently besetting the student fraternity may just be a passing phase; and who knows the new rules may actually turn to be a blessing in disguise after all!
George Tizirai-Chapwanya, BL (Hons) LLB LLM is a Solicitor with Bake & Co Solicitors. He can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Bake & Co Solicitors’ website at www.bakesolicitors.co.uk; 0121 616 5025 or 07815958475
Disclaimer: This article only provides general information on immigration law. It is not intended to replace the advice or services of a Solicitor. The specific facts that apply to your matter may make the outcome different than would be anticipated by you. The writer will not accept any liability for any claims or inconvenience as a result of use of this information