UK expats: Extend your Tier 1 (General) visa by April 2015
If you have a Tier 1 (General) visa and you’re currently in the UK, you have until 5 April 2015 to extend your visa. Thereafter, Tier 1 (General) will close and extensions will no longer be possible.
What is the Tier 1 (General) visa?
The Tier 1 (General) visa replaced the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP) in March 2008 – a scheme that allowed highly skilled people to enter the UK to look for work or become self-employed. The HSMP was a points-based immigration scheme, and in order to qualify you needed 75 points.
The current Tier 1 (General) visa is similar to the HSMP system, however, you’ll need additional points for Maintenance (money to cover your living expenses in the UK) and English Language Ability.
Details on extending your visa if you’re in the UK
If you applied for your visa on or after 6 April 2010, you can extend for three years, and you can extend for two years if you applied for any of the following visa categories before 6 April 2010:
- Tier 1 (General)
- Writer, composer or artist
- Self-employed lawyer
Indefinite leave to remain
If you want to apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR), you must submit your application on or before April 2018. From 6 April 2018, applications for indefinite leave to remain will not be accepted in the Tier 1 (General) category.
Is there another option?
If you do not qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain, the next option available is to switch to a Tier 2 sponsorship visa. You can apply for the Tier 2 sponsorship visa if you’ve been offered a skilled job in the UK, and if you’re from outside the European Economic Area and Switzerland. The challenge with this, however, is that your UK employer needs to have a Certificate of Sponsorship before they can sponsor you.
Finding a position categorised as “shortage occupation” may take time, but if you believe that you’ll be able to fill a “shortage occupation” position, start searching and applying for jobs as soon as possible.
Your best bet, regardless, is to renew your visa before the cut off so that you don’t run into trouble later. 2015 sounds like a while away, but it really isn’t. Get in touch with a visa agency, who will be able to advise you of the best course of action, and assist you in making sure that your application runs smoothly.
John Dunn / Expatica
This article was provided by John Dunn, the manager of 1st Contact Visas.
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