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Tier 1 (General) closes for overseas applicants and new interim limit for Tier 2 set

Posted on December 22, 2010
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An entry route into Britain for ‘highly skilled’ economic migrants will be slammed shut after the numbers allowed in reached the legal limit – four months early.

The UK Border Agency has announced that from 00:01hrs (GMT) on the 23 December 2010 the agency will no longer accept Tier 1 (General) UK Visa applications made overseas. Tier 1 (General) applications made in the UK will remain open until 5 April 2011, when the Tier 1 (General) will be closed permanently.

The Border Agency says the action has been taken to ensure that the interim UK immigration limit set by the UK Government for Tier 1 (General) visas issued between 19 July 2010 and April 2011 is not exceeded.

Immigration Minister Damian Green will close applications after the quota of 5,100 places allowed under the interim cap was filled.

The route allowed in migrants who did not have a job secured in the UK provided they could prove they were high earners and had skills that were in demand.

It was criticized after Home Office a figure revealed just one in four of those coming in through the route – Tier One of Labour’s points system – was actually in a highly skilled occupation.

Nearly one in three was either unemployed or working as supermarket cashiers, security guards or call centre staff.

The route will be largely scrapped when the full limit is imposed from April, with exemptions remaining only for entrepreneurs and millionaire investors. Mr. Green made the announcement yesterday as he told the House of Commons the interim limit will be reinstated today, after it was ruled illegal by the courts.

Last week refugee campaigners and care home managers won a ruling in the High Court that the temporary cap was unlawful because of the way it was introduced in Parliament.

Mr. Green said the ruling was on a ‘technical and procedural point’ and the judges did not find the principle of having a limit was unlawful.

The cap, which cut visa numbers by a fifth, will be reinstated when ministers put new rules before Parliament today.

Mr. Green said: ‘Tomorrow I will be laying changes to the immigration rules which will set out the details the court required. This will enable us to reinstate the interim limits on a clear legal basis.

‘I will also be laying changes to the rules tomorrow to close applications under the Tier One general route from outside the UK immediately as the original level specified on this tier has been reached.

‘The interim limit was a temporary measure introduced specifically to tackle a rush of applications ahead of the introduction of the annual limit.

‘As a result of the volume of applications received since the interim limit was introduced last July, no more Tier One visa applications from overseas will be accepted after 23 December.’

Mr. Green appeared before the House after Labour demanded a minister explains the result of the court case. Shadow Home Secretary Ed Balls said the Government had given the impression of acting in a ‘reckless and chaotic manner’.

Following a court judgment on Friday, the government has also set a limit until 5 April 2011 on the number of certificates of sponsorship that are available to licensed Tier 2 sponsors under Tier 2 (General). The level of the limit will be 10,832, and the changes will take place immediately.

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