The Tier 1 (General) visa route, aimed at highly skilled workers, has been on its way out for several years. New applications from overseas closed in December 2010 and new applications from within the UK closed in April 2011. Individuals who are living and working in the UK under an existing Tier 1 (General) visa have continued to be able to extend their stay.
From 6 April 2015, individuals will no longer be able to apply for an extension of their Tier 1 (General) visa. Their existing visa will continue to give them the right to live and work in the UK, but on its expiry, the individual will have to look for another route to remain in the UK.
Individuals in the UK under a Tier 1 (General) visa may:
- Apply to extend their stay on or before 5 April 2015. An extension will be granted for the shorter of 3 years or the balance of time needed for the individual to accrue 5 years in the UK, at which time they will be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain;
- Apply for indefinite leave to remain if they have already accrued 5 years in the UK; or
- Switch into another, qualifying tier, subject to the eligibility requirements.
Individuals and organisations who are affected by this change are encouraged to start thinking about alternative options now, to ensure that key members of staff continue to have the right to work in the UK and to avoid disruption to the business.