The Highly Skilled Migrant Programme
5. The Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (hereafter
"the HSMP") is designed to allow highly skilled individuals
with exceptional skills to come to the UK to seek work or opportunities
6. Those applying for the first time to the HSMP
must go through a two-stage application process. First, they must
apply for a HSMP approval letter for entry to the programme, in
which the Home Office confirms that the person meets the criteria
specified for entry to the UK under the HSMP. Second, they must
meet all of the requirements of the relevant Immigration Rule
in order to obtain leave to remain as a highly skilled migrant.
7. One of those requirements was that the person
concerned must "intend to make the United Kingdom his main
home." This express
requirement in the Immigration Rules was reflected in the Guidance
Notes for those making HSMP applications, which specifically stated
that individuals would be asked to provide a "written undertaking"
that they would make the UK their main home.
8. The HSMP provides a route to becoming permanently
resident in the UK. Before the changes introduced in April 2006
(considered below), an applicant to the HSMP who met the criteria
would be granted initial leave to enter for a year.
At the end of the first year's leave, highly skilled migrants
were eligible to apply for a 3 year extension of leave, which
would be granted if they demonstrated that during the first year
they had taken all reasonable steps to become lawfully economically
active. At the end of the 3 years' leave, they were eligible to
apply for indefinite leave to remain ("ILR") which would
be granted if the person could show that they have had a continuous
period of at least 4 years as a highly skilled migrant and that
they had become lawfully economically active in the UK.
The Guidance Notes explained all this unequivocally to applicants.
They were told that, once they had entered under the HSMP, they
were in a category that has an avenue to settlement, and that
they would be allowed to stay and apply for settlement after four
years' qualifying residence.
9. In short, when the HSMP was introduced in 2002,
a highly skilled migrant who met the initial criteria would be
granted a year's leave if they could also show that they intended
to make the UK their main home, then a 3 year extension if they
could show that they had taken all reasonable steps to become
economically active in the UK, and after 4 years would be granted
permanent residence if they could show that they actually are
economically active. In return for a commitment to permanent relocation,
the HSMP held out the prospect of further leave and ultimately
10. Not surprisingly, in light of the requirement
that people on the HSMP intend to make the UK their main home,
individuals with leave to enter or remain under the HSMP have
taken a number of important and long-term steps to establish their
main home in the UK: they have left permanent jobs in their home
countries, sold their homes, relocated their families (spouses
and children) to be in the UK also, entered into financial commitments
such as mortgages, transferred businesses, entered into long term
financial arrangements, made long term economic and contractual
plans, and the lives of their families have been transferred (for
example, spouses have new jobs, children new schools).
11. Thousands of individuals currently on the HSMP
have acted in this way to fulfil the Government's requirement
that they make the UK their main home, and have done so in the
expectation that, provided they make their main home here and
remain economically active, they will be eligible to apply for
indefinite leave to remain after the prescribed amount of time.
12. According to a Written Answer, between January
2002 and October 2006 the total number of applications granted
under the HSMP was 49,188.
The Immigration Rules
13. The Immigration Rules are the Rules made by the
Home Secretary under the Immigration Act 1971.
14. They constitute a statement of practice, as laid
before Parliament by the Home Secretary, to be followed in regulating
entry into, and stay of persons in, the UK. The Home Secretary
is obliged by statute to lay before Parliament statements of the
Rules, or any changes in the Rules.
15. Statements of changes in the Immigration Rules
are subject to negative resolution procedure. The Government's
practice is not to provide statements about the compatibility
of such instruments with the European Convention on Human Rights.
1 The submission is available under "Research
documents" on VBSI's website, http://www.vbsi.org.uk. Back
Public submissions made by the HSMP Forum are available on its
website, http://www.hsmpforum.org. Back
Immigration Rules (HC 395), para. 135A(ii). Back
HSMP 1 Guidance Notes, version 06/06, para. 22. Back
Immigration Rules, para 135B. Back
Immigration Rules, para 135G. Back
HL Deb, 28 November 2006, col WA47 (Baroness Scotland). Back
Section 3(2). Back