(As available on http://www.workingintheuk.gov.uk
On 7 November 2006, Liam Byrne, Minister for Immigration, Nationality
and Citizenship announced a change in the Rules for the Highly Skilled
Migrant Programme (HSMP). Applicants under this scheme will be judged
against new enhanced points criteria designed to better reflect
the likelihood of migrants' labour market success. The result will
be to bring the HSMP closer in line with the Government's aims for
migration, including supporting an objective set by the IND Review
(July 2006), to 'boost Britain's economy by bringing the right skills
here from around the world'.
HSMP is currently the only points-based immigration route into
the UK. The change in assessment criteria reflects our determination
to ensure greater transparency and objectivity in decision making
for the applicant. Importantly too, these changes will inform the
decisions Government will take towards establishing the new five-tiered
Points Based System for all migration routes to the UK to work or
study by April 2009.
New points criteria for initial HSMP applications
There will be changes to the attributes for which points are awarded.
We are deleting the work experience, significant achievements, skilled
partner and GP Priority Provision categories. The new attributes
will be academic qualifications, previous earnings, age and bonus
points for previous work/study in the UK. The provision which allows
holders of MBA degrees from designated institutions will continue.
In addition, there will be a new mandatory English language requirement
(IELTS level 6 or equivalent) for all applicants.
The changes will be made by announcing the deletion of the existing
HSMP rules on 7 November 2006, effective from 8 November 2006. As
part of this announcement, to prepare applicants and ensure an effective
operational transition, we will effect a short suspension of the
scheme until 4 December 2006. The revised scheme will be operational
from 5 December 2006.
Suspending the HSMP for 27 days will enable us to manage the transition
most effectively with the available resources and ensure that current
levels of customer service are maintained when the new arrangements
Initial HSMP applications during the suspension period
HSMP applications received up to 5pm on 7 November 2006 by our payment
processing centre will be accepted and considered against the old
Furthermore, anyone already in receipt of a HSMP approval letter
can still apply for entry clearance at a visa post for up to 6 months
from the date that the approval letter has been issued.
Applications received on the old HSMP forms from 8 November onwards
will be returned to the applicant/representative, with no fee taken.
The new HSMP forms and guidance will be available from our website
from 7 November 2006; hard copies will be available to order later
in November. Customers should not submit applications on the new
form during the suspension. Any applications received after 5 December
2006 will be prioritised. Any applications received on the new form
during the suspension period will take more time to process, since
priority will be given to those applications received from 5 December.
New criteria for the extension of leave under HSMP
We will introduce a more robust points test for applicants looking
for an extension of an initial period of leave under HSMP. This
involves replacing the current test, that applicants must show that
they have 'taken all reasonable steps to become lawfully economically
active' with a new points test, which applies the same attributes
being introduced for initial decisions: English language, previous
earnings, qualifications and age.
The revised Leave to Remain criteria will ensure that those people
on the programme who wish to extend their stay have been making
a contribution to the UK economy.
Transitional arrangements will apply for those whose leave to remain
expires under the new rules and whose applications will be considered
against the new criteria. Those who are making a useful contribution
to the UK economy - for example, working in a skilled job - but
who fail to meet the new requirements, will be offered a 'grace
period' in which they can switch into the Work Permits scheme (provided
they meet the Work Permits criteria, with the Resident Labour Market
Test being waived if they have been in post for a specified period).
Applications to extend leave to remain during the suspension
We will not be considering extension applications during the suspension
period. However, those on the HSMP whose leave to remain expires
during the suspension period will not be disadvantaged, as their
extension applications will be accepted and they will be given the
opportunity to provide further evidence towards the consideration
of their application under the new rules.
The old FLR (IED) form will continue to be accepted until 4 December.
We will write to applicants applying on this form, informing them
of the new arrangements and offering the opportunity to submit relevant
pages of the new form, plus any additional evidence that may be
HSMP Review requests
Any HSMP review request received from individuals whose application
was refused under the previous HSMP criteria, in place until 7 November
2006, will be reviewed against the previous criteria. Please note
these reviews may not have been completed by 5 December 2006 when
the new HSMP criteria come into effect.
New mandatory English requirement and documentation verification
We will promote the new mandatory English language requirement to
ensure that applicants are aware of the level of proficiency necessary
to support a successful application.
We will promote the change to the scheme which puts responsibility
on the applicant to submit the required documentation with their
application. We will verify evidence provided with an appropriate
third party and not through direct contact with the applicant. We
will confirm that applicants that don?t provide the required evidence
or submit documents that cannot be verified will fail.
IND will conduct a thorough review of the changes to the HSMP scheme,
covering both how the changes were implemented and their effectiveness.
(As available on http://www.workingintheuk.gov.uk site)