Budget 2017: changes to immigration rules

In yesterday’s Budget, the Government has announced its intention to make changes to the Immigration Rules to encourage the ‘best and the brightest’ international scientific and research talent to work in the UK.  The key points are as follows:

  •  An expedited process will be introduced for highly-skilled students to apply to work in the UK after finishing their degree.  This suggests there will be changes to the rules for some Tier 4 students who are switching to the Tier 2 (General) category.    
  • The resident labour market test will be relaxed for employers who are hiring international researchers and members of established research teams.
  • UK research councils and other select organisations will be able to sponsor researchers.  This suggests that these organisations will be able to apply to register as sponsors for the Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange) category and able to sponsor people for up to two years in certain research roles. 
  • The Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category will be expanded and migrants able to apply for settlement after three years.

These changes are likely to be of particular benefit to universities and research institutes.  We await the publishing of further details on the proposals, including in relation to transitional provisions and timescales.  It is possible that some of these changes may be implemented in April 2018.

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