World news story

New UK immigration rules aimed at attracting "best global talent"

Today's changes will provide additional flexibility for businesses,and enable top international students to pursue their careers in the UK.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


The government is extending the offer already available for highly skilled migrants to encourage the brightest and best global talent to come to the UK to study, work, invest and set up business.

Gifted international students who wish to begin their career in the UK will also benefit from a number of changes.

From April the UK Border Agency will expand the Graduate Entrepreneur scheme to allow up to 1,000 international MBA graduates from British universities to stay in the UK for a year after graduating.

These graduates will be able to develop their own business idea, or work in a start-up, after which they will have the option to stay on in the UK as a skilled worker or entrepreneur.

All international graduates are already able to remain in the UK after their studies if they get a graduate level job. In addition to this, we are creating greater flexibility for successful PhD students by allowing them to stay on after their studies for up to a year and work, without having to switch routes. This is in recognition of the unique contribution university research has on the education system and the economy.

Immigration Minister Mark Harper said:

The latest net migration statistics show numbers are now coming under control and our radical changes are having the desired effect – abuse has been stamped out and net migration is down, while the number of skilled workers and university students coming to the UK is up. Today’s changes will help ensure this pattern continues – we are lowering administrative burdens on employers and giving greater flexibility to those senior executives and elite graduates who want to work and study here.

Intra-Company Transferees (ICT) who are paid more than £152,100 will no longer have to take an English test if they want to extend their leave in the UK. In addition we are reducing the amount of documents ICTs have to provide in order to prove they have worked for their company for over a year.

Skilled workers paid more than £152,100 who have worked here previously will now be able to take up another role in the UK without having to wait 12 months between postings. This will improve businesses’ ability to recruit and transfer the very best global talent.

Other changes being announced today include:

  • removal of the need to continually lay further rules changes to renew the various migration limits (in relation to Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent), Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) and Tier 2 (General))
  • an updated Shortage Occupation List
  • updated Codes of Practice for skilled workers, which set out skilled occupations and their minimum appropriate salary rates and associated requirements for carrying out the Resident Labour Market Test
  • updated salary thresholds for skilled workers. These have been increased by 1.4% in line with wage inflation

Further changes include:

  • a clarification of the current General Visitor rules to stop those whose repeat visits amount to de facto residence
  • the introduction of provisions for a person to apply to be recognised as stateless and to be granted leave to remain in the UK in that capacity

Further information

A full list of the changes being made to the Immigration Rules can be found here

All rules will come into force on 6 April 2013.

For more information on work routes under the Points Based System please visit the UK Border Agency website

For more information on the student route under the Points Based System please visit the UK Border Agency website

The Home Office has made a number of changes prior to today to encourage the brightest and the best migrants to come to the UK, including:

  • raising the skills bar under Tier 2 so that only those with graduate-level jobs can work in the UK
  • closing routes where work was not sponsored by an employer licensed by the UK Border Agency
  • ensuring that those workers who want to settle in the UK permanently are earning a good salary or are in shortage or research occupations
  • the introduction of new routes for the exceptionally talented and for graduate entrepreneurs

For more information please call the Home Office Press Office on 020 7035 3535.

Published 19 March 2013