United Kingdom Immigration Alerts

New 24-Hour “Super Priority” Visa Service at the British Consulate in New York

What has changed?

On March 9, 2015 the British Consulate in New York introduced a 24-Hour “Super Priority” visa service for U.S applicants. This optional service allows applicants who urgently need a visa to receive a decision within twenty-four (24) hours of submitting their application.  This service is only available for specific visas and the applicant must meet eligibility requirements.

A five-day priority service remains available. However, this “Super Priority” service gives the application priority over all other pending applications.

Who is affected?
What to expect

Those eligible to use the “Super Priority” service are:

  • Tourist and short stay visitors
  • Points Based System Tier 2 applicants with authority to live in the U.S.
  • Points Based System Tier 5 applicants with authority to live in the U.S or Temporary Worker (Creative and Sporting) applicant if currently in the U.S for a similar purpose to the activity  proposed to be undertaken in the UK
  • Tier 4 student visa holders who are residents in the U.S.

There is an additional $936 fee for the “Super Priority” service. This fee is in addition to standard visa fees and is per person, not per family unit. The fee is non-refundable if biometrics are enrolled, if the application takes more than twenty-four (24) hours, or if the application is refused.

What you need to do
Planning ahead

  • For individuals needing a UK visa extremely urgently, the 24-hour priority service is an option to consider. The applicant must keep in mind the additional costs that come with expediting the process.
    Contact your Emigra Worldwide attorney or representative for further details on how these updates may impact you or your clients.


Increase to Tier 2 Yearly Salary Thresholds

What has changed?

Effective April 6, 2015 the minimum salary thresholds increased across all Tier 2 categories, as well as the minimum salary for each Standard Occupation Classification (SOC) Code.

Who is affected?
What to expect

  • Applicants applying for work permits under Tier 2 categories

Please find the new salary thresholds highlighted below.

  • Tier 2 (General) (Jobs that qualify for Tier 2 (General) –  The threshold increased by £300 on April 6, 2015 from £20,500 to £20,800.
  • Tier 2 (General) (Jobs exempt from advertising) – The threshold increased by £900 on April 6, 2015 from £71,600 to £72,500.
  • Tier 2 (General) (Exempt from quotas, 12 month cooling off period, and Labor Market Testing) – The threshold increased by £1800 on April 6, 2015 from £153,500 to £155,300.
  • Tier 2 (ICT) (Short Term) – The threshold increased by £300 on April 6, 2015 from £24,500 to £24,800.
  • Tier 2 (ICT) (Long Term) – The threshold increased by £500 on April 6, 2015 from £41,000 to £41,500.

Please note that there have also been changes to the salary requirements for all sectors of the Standard Occupation Classification (SOC) Codes. Although the vast majority have increased minimum salary, in categories where there have been observed shortages, the minimum wages have decreased.

What you need to do
Planning ahead

  • To stay compliant, employers with plans to hire foreign nationals should familiarize themselves with the new minimum salary requirements.
  • Employers should contact their Emigra Worldwide representative for a more inclusive list of changes in salary in regards to the SOC Codes.
  • Contact your Emigra Worldwide attorney or representative for further details on how these updates may impact you or your clients.

Mandatory Healthcare Surcharge for Most Non-EEA Nationals

What has changed?

Effective April 6, 2015 a mandatory health surcharge will be applied to non-EEA work and study visa applicants and their family who either enter the UK or extend their stay in the UK for longer than six (6) months.  The surcharge for foreign workers, their family members, and students is£200 (£150 for students)  per year per person. This additional government fee will be added as part of the visa application process.

Previously there was no medical surcharge.

Who is affected?
What to expect

All applicants and their dependents who are entering the U.K. or extending their stay for more than six (6) months are required to pay the surcharge.

The following exemptions apply:

  • Visitors, and where the grant of entry clearance (permission to stay in the UK) is for six (6) months or less.
  • Intra-company transfers (Tier 2 – skilled workers).
  • Children under eighteen (18) years taken into care or in the care of a local authority.
  • Migrants making an application for asylum, humanitarian protection, or a claim that their removal from the United Kingdom would be contrary to article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
  • Victims of human trafficking.
  • A migrant who applies under the Home Office concession known as the ‘destitute domestic violence concession’.
  • Dependents of a member of Her Majesty’s Forces.
  • As a dependent of a member of another country’s Forces who is exempt from Immigration Control.
  • Those making an immigration application related to an EU obligation, such as an application under the Turkish European Communities Association Agreement, are exempt.
  • Nationals of Australia or New Zealand.
  • A British Overseas Territory citizen who is the resident of the Falkland Islands.

*This list is not exhaustive and is subject to change at any time.

The introduction of this surcharge is to allow foreign nationals to benefit from the UK’s National Health Service (NHS).

Applicants are required to pay the health surcharge in full at the time of the immigration application. If the application is made in person at one of the Premium Service Centres (UK only) the surcharge must be paid prior to the appointment.

What you need to do
Planning ahead

  • Companies sponsoring non-EEA foreign nationals/ individual applicants must be prepared to pay the surcharge in addition to all government fees, in full, at the time of application.
  • If the application is being submitted in person, Emigra Worldwide will ensure the correct surcharge is paid in advance of the application or appointment so as to avoid any delays.
    Contact your Emigra Worldwide attorney or representative for further details on how these updates may impact you or your clients.


The information above was provided by Emigra Worldwide, our global network partners, and relevant government authorities. The information herein is for general purposes only and not intended as advice for a particular matter. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the global immigration professional with whom you work.