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.
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.
Placing the 35,000 pounds salary threshold will result in the number of 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.