January 14, 2013:
Taking into effect December 13, 2012, several changes will be applied to Tier 2 intra-company transfer (ICT) and general visa holders in the UK. These changes include longer maximum stay for high earning ICTs, an increase in time Tier 2 visa holders can spend outside of the UK before applying for permanent residence and greater clarity regarding cooling off period prior to subsequent Tier 2 stays.
Extended Maximum Stay for High-Earning ICTs
Long-term ICTs’ (visa holders who earn an annual salary of £40,000 or more) period of stay will be extended from five years to a maximum of nine years, for those who earn an annual salary of £150,000 or more.
Greater Clarity on Allowable Absences and Settlement
Tier 2 general visa holders will be able to spend up to 180 days per year outside the UK and still remain eligible for settlement in the UK after five years in Tier 2 status.
Prior to this change, there was a significant degree of uncertainty due to Immigration officials’ ability to exercise discretion in allowing Tier 2 visa holders to apply for settlement even after exceeding 180 days outside the UK. The new policy will provide Tier 2 visa holders who travel frequently with a greater degree of certainty whether they qualify.
Greater Clarity on the Cooling-Off Period for Tier 2 Visa Holders
A Tier 2 visa holder whose period of stay has elapsed must spend at least 12 months outside of the UK before he or she can be granted another Tier 2 stay, known as the “cooling off period.” Beginning December 13, this cooling-off period will start on the earliest date the foreign national can show that he or she left the UK.
Prior to this change, the cooling-off period began only after a Tier 2 worker’s visa expired or was cancelled, or the foreign national had left the UK. This policy has been problematic in situations where a Tier 2 ICT ends his or her stay prematurely and goes through visa curtailment. This process potentially lengthened the actual period by up to three months before the foreign national can take up a second Tier 2 stay.
This Relo-lert is intended for informational use only. If you have any questions regarding the impact of this information on your organization, please contact All Points Relocation at [email protected].