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Commercial Angles' Newsletter - February 2002

Immigration rules for highly skilled migrants

The highly skilled migrant programme (HSMP) will begin on 28 January 2002 and be run as a pilot for a period of one year. The pilot programme will be administered by Work Permits (UK), the government office based in Sheffield. The HSMP allows talented people with exceptional skills, abilities or experience and who are considered to be at the top of their profession to enter UK to seek work either as an employee or as a self-employed person. The HSMP differs from the work permit scheme in the following ways:

  • An overseas national who does not have an automatic right (by virtue of being an EU citizen, or of British ancestry, or a spouse of an EU citizen or a person of British ancestry, or a spouse of a work permit holder) to work in UK must normally obtain a work permit or invest money in the UK.
    • The work permit is applied for and obtained by the employer and the employer has to prove that it has attempted and failed to fill the vacancy with an EU national. Work permits are approved by Work Permits (UK).
    • If the overseas national is an entrepreneur who will invest £200,000 in a UK business which will employ at least two EU citizens, he or she will normally be given a work permit as an entrepreneur.

Under the HSMP rules, the employer is not required to apply for a work permit and the overseas national does not have to invest £200,000. Instead the overseas national may apply to Work Permits (UK) who will assess the application under several criteria. If the application is awarded at least 75 points under these criteria, the overseas national will receive a personal work permit allowing him or her to enter UK to seek work.

The criteria for obtaining an HSMP work permit are:

  • Educational qualifications - points are awarded for a graduate degree ranging from 15 points up to 30 points for a doctorate.
  • Work experience - if the work experience is suitable, between 15 and 25 points will be awarded depending on the level of work experience.
  • Past earnings - past earnings are taken as a measure of the ability of the applicant. Due account is taken that the level of earnings in some countries differ significantly from European levels. Between 25 and 50 points may be awarded under this criterion.
  • Achievement in the applicant's chosen field - overseas nationals must produce evidence that their work has been acknowledged by their peers and contributed significantly to the development of their field. Twenty-five points will be awarded for significant achievement or fifty points will be awarded for exceptional achievement.
  • Priority applications - at present priority is given to health sector professionals but other sectors may be approved from time to time if the pilot programme is adopted after its trial period.
  • Other requirements - in addition to scoring over 75 points, overseas nationals must show that they are able to work in their chosen field in UK and are willing to make their main home in UK. A written declaration to this effect is required. If the applicant cannot speak English, evidence must be produced to prove that spoken English is not needed to continue his or her work in UK. The applicant is required to disclose any criminal convictions or whether bankruptcy proceedings have been taken against him or her. The overseas national must also show that funds will be available, whether from earnings or otherwise, to maintain himself or herself and any accompanying dependants.

Applications under HSMP are normally made through the British consulate overseas. However people already in UK as students or work permit holders, but not visitors, may apply under HSMP whilst living in UK. Once granted permission under HSMP, the overseas national is allowed to enter and remain in UK for 12 months. After that, a three-year extension may be applied for, at the end of which time the applicant may apply to settle in UK.

As an alternative to HSMP, the ecommerce minister has announced that software specialist applicants from India may now apply for multiple-entry, two-year work visas that will enable them to enter and leave UK as often as they wish during the validity of their visas.

Articles from previous newsletters

Acquisitions & Mergers | Big Brother | Business Plans | Climate Change Levy | Company Car Tax |  Company Car Tax 2 | Contracts of Employment | Corporate Immigration | Corporate Responsibility | Data Protection | Energy Audits | Environmental Liability | Euro Notes & Coins | Exports to Germany | Export procedures |  Fixed Term Employment Contracts | Fraud recovery | Out of Court Offers | Payroll Review | Prevention of Fraud I | Prevention of Fraud II | Prevention of Fraud III | Product Liability | Redundancy | Skilled Migration | Stakeholder Pensions | Temporary Contracts | Travel Expenses |  TUPE | Value of the Euro | Watch out! | Work Permits | Work-related Road Safety | More articles |

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