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HSMP visa replaced

The date for the roll-out of the new UK visa for highly skilled migran
The date for the roll-out of the new UK visa for highly skilled migrants has been announced by the UK Border and Immigration Agency.

From June 30 the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP) will be replaced by the Tier 1 (general) visa, which has been in operation for applicants within the UK since February 29.

The old HSMP visa has remained in operation for people applying from overseas, though this will no longer be the case from June 29.

The only people still eligible to get a visa under the HSMP will be those who already have a letter of approval and are able to submit their subsequent application for entry clearance before June 29. All other applicants from now on will be subjected to the new requirements of the Tier 1 (general) visa.

People who currently have applications pending and only receive their HSMP approval letter after June 30 will have to apply under the new system. The approval letter will count for 75 of the required 95 points under the new visa, but 10 points each for English language skills and for funds will still be needed.

The visa changes mean:

» Applicants from overseas now need to prove they have £2800 (or foreign currency equivalent) in their bank account for three continuous months when applying. Applicants from within the UK need £800.

» The two-stage application process (applying for a letter of approval then for entry clearance) now has only one stage.

» The initial visa will be granted for three years not two.

On February 29 working holidaymakers became ineligible to apply for a new visa from within the UK, and had to return home to apply.

Other changes include replacing the working holidaymaker visa with the youth mobility scheme (YMS) visa from this autumn.  YMS visa holders will be able to stay in the UK for two years and work for that full period. However, it is unlikely South Africans will be eligible for the YMS visa because their country does not have the required reciprocal scheme for young British citizens.

See www.bia.homeoffice.gov.uk

WORDS: Daniel Landon

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