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UK further tightens visa rules

Press Trust of India  |  London 

For the first time, Britain is breaking the link between the number of years a migrant spends in the country and permanent settlement, by introducing a 35,000-pound annual salary threshold for those seeking to avail the privilege, a move that is likely to affect Indians.

Until now, permanent settlement was automatic: if a migrant spends five years in the UK in an immigration route that leads to settlement, and has not committed major criminal offences, permanent settlement was granted, irrespective of the salary level.

The new measure announced today is scheduled to be introduced in April 2016, after which migrants will need to show evidence of earning at least 35,000 pounds in annual salary before being granted permanent settlement.

Thousands of Indian professionals migrate to the UK under various work categories.

After spending five years in their jobs, those seeking permanent settlement after April 2016 will need to earn at least 35,000 pounds in their jobs for permanent settlement.

Placing the 35,000 pounds salary threshold will result in the number of Indian and other non-EU migrants granted permanent settlement dropping to 20,000 from 60,000 annually, the Home Office said.

Those who do not qualify will be required to leave the UK after six years.

Immigration Minister Damian Green said migrants who enter as PhD-level scientists and researchers will qualify for settlement without having to meet the 35,000 minimum salary threshold.

The new changes include restrictions on domestic workers who can come to the UK.

Such migrants will not be allowed to stay for more than six months, without a right to change employer.

However, current arrangements for domestic workers will continue for private servants in diplomatic households, but they will not be granted permanent settlement after five years.

Green said: "Settlement in the UK is a privilege. We are sweeping aside the idea that everyone who comes here to work can settle, and instead reserving this important right only for the brightest and best."

He added: "Our reforms of the immigration system will ensure we are more selective not only about those who are allowed to come here but also those who are allowed to stay permanently."

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First Published: Wed, February 29 2012. 19:36 IST