The International Group of the UKBA published what it called the an “operational assessment” of Tier 1 of the Points Based System (PBS). The Agency’s document can be viewed here.
It is very much the objective of the Agency’s document (“study” as they call it) to ascertain the “employment status” of visa holders in the Tier 1 category under the rules.
In addition to the Tier 1 (General) category, at present Tier 1 also contains the contentious Post Study Work (PSW) visa which the Coalition government would like to see overhauled so that students from “bogus” educational institutions can be precluded from obtaining leave under this category.
All this, of course, is directly connected to Prime Minister David Cameron’s pledge to make Britain’s borders more secure.
Since the Entrepreneur and Investor categories require a much higher threshold in terms of the funds an applicant has to exhibit, the government has not intimated that it will be changing these visa routes which are available to foreigners interested in working in the UK. Under these categories applicants must show that they either have £200,000 (Entrepreneurs) or £1 million (Investors) to bring into the UK’s ailing economy.
However, under the Tier 1 (General) category the UKBA has stated in its report that from the sample which it used containing Indian, Chinese, Nigerian, and Pakistani applicants as many as 29% of such visa holders worked in “unskilled” jobs rather than in “skilled” jobs. In 46% of the cases it was “unclear” whether the type of work done by Tier 1 (General) visa holders was “skilled” or “unskilled”. Only 25% of Tier 1 (General) visa holders actually did “skilled” work as doctors or lawyers. The use of the word “skilled” in the UKBA’s document is slightly odd because Tier 1 is the “highly skilled” category which is meant to be distinct from the Tier 2 (General) category which relates to “skilled” work.
Tier 1 (General) visa holders can come to work in the UK without a job offer or without an employer’s sponsorship and the policy assumes that migrants under it will come to the UK to do “skilled work”. The Tier 1 (General) category is no newcomer to revision.
The terms of the Tier 1 (General) visa have been varied several times for the sake of political expediency. Gordon Brown revised the earnings bands and raised their threshold in his desperate attempt to win the 6 May 2010 General Election. Since then the Coalition government has placed a limit on the Tier 1 (General) visa and also amended the total number of points required to obtain entry clearance or leave to remain by raising the requirements by 5 points.
In real terms the thrust of the UKBA’s findings are, no doubt, related to the government’s promise to lower immigration. The rationale, in future changes to the Tier 1 (General) scheme, will no doubt emanate from the findings of the above report because it is very much the spirit of the PBS that overseas workers should not displace workers from the domestic employment market.
It is possible that the next blow to Tier 1 (General) applicants will come when the government revises the multipliers for initial applications. The multipliers allow applicants from the poorest countries to “uplift” their earnings figures to reflect a UK equivalent. The uplift allows applicants from poorer nations to get visas easily in the first instance. Extending the Tier 1 (General) visa is difficult as uplifts are not available when extension applications are made.
Lets see whats next for Tier 1 (General)?