We previously reported on the Migratory Advisory Committee’s (MAC) recommendations made in January 2016 for changes to Tier 2 of the points based system (PBS) following a request by the Home office last year to review the route which allows sponsored skilled migrants outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) to carry out skilled work in the UK. The UK Government has now responded by implementing some of the MAC’s recommendations in what is widely viewed as a calm, measured and reasonable manner. This is good news for many Tier 2 Sponsors as the Home Office has decided not to introduce some of the changes which would have been most damaging so businesses can continue to employ the brightest and the best skilled workers irrespective of nationality. We have outlined the main changes due to be implemented by the Home Office in Autumn 2016 and April 2017 for you below:
Key Changes For Tier 2 Visa Applicants
The changes are set to be introduced in two stages the first set of changes to be implemented in autumn 2016 include the following:
- Tier 2 (General) salary thresholds for experienced workers will be increased to £25,000 in autumn 2016. This is one of the changes that will be phased in for businesses to have time to prepare but the minimum threshold is set to increase to £30,000 in 2017.
- Some health and education professionals will be exempt from having to meet the higher threshold until July 2019 to reflect the ongoing public sector pay restraint and specific recruitment challenges in these occupations.
- The minimum threshold of £20,800 for new applicants will be maintained.
- Nurses will remain on the Shortage Occupation List, but sponsors will need to carry out a Resident Labour Market Test before recruiting nurses outside of the EEA.
- Extra weighting will be given to overseas graduates in the Tier 2 (General) monthly quota allocation, to make it easier for employers to score the necessary points required to sponsor the new employees.
- Employers will continue to be able to sponsor non-EEA graduates of UK universities without needing to pass the resident labour market requirement and without being subject to the annual limit on Tier 2 (General) places. Graduates will also be able to switch roles once they secure a permanent job at the end of their training programme, without the Sponsor having to undertake a resident labour market test.
- The current Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) provisions are to be simplified by requiring all intra-company transferees to qualify under a single visa category with a minimum salary threshold of £41,500, with the exception of the graduate trainees.
- The salary threshold for the Tier 2 (ICT) Short Term route will be increased to £30,000.
Changes Due in 2017
Some of the other key changes will be implemented in 2017 and they include the following:
- As mentioned above the Tier 2 (General) minimum salary threshold will be raised to £30,000 for experienced workers.
- The Tier 2 (ICT) Short Term category will be closed to new applications
- The Introduction of an annual Immigration Skills Charge (ISC) to be levied at an annual rate of £1,000 per person. At a reduced annual rate of £364 per person for small and charitable sponsors.
- PhD roles, Tier 2 ICT Graduate Trainees and those transitioning from Tier 4 to Tier 2 General will be exempt from paying the ISC.
- There will be a waiver of the Resident Labour Market Test and prioritisation for Tier 2 (General) places where the visa grant(s) are in support of the relocation of a high-value business to the UK or, potentially, an inward investment project.
- There will be removal of the requirement for 12 months’ overseas service for Tier 2 ICT Long Term Staff, for roles commanding a gross annual salary of over £73,900.
- The MAC’s recommendation of a 24 month period of employment to qualify for Tier 2 (ICT) will not be introduced.
Other changes include simplifying the immigration rules for work categories in order to make it easier for sponsors and applicants to understand and use. You can view the full ministerial statement of changes here.
UK Immigration Advice for Tier 2 Visa Applicants and Sponsors
Our team of solicitors and barristers bear in mind the paramount duty of all legal representatives to act in your best interest whilst complying with the strict letter of the law. Our team of specialists can be distinguished from other law firms with our client tailored approach and scrutiny of options available to you from the outset. We will be able to advise you in respect of the merits of your Tier 2 visa application by providing you with advice from our leading team of barristers before your matter even reaches the Home Office. Our expert immigration solicitors provide business clients with a tailored service and are on hand to expedite the sponsor licence process. We ensure that we help you achieve and maintain an A rated sponsor licence and provide ongoing compliance checks to ensure you are aware of your duties as a Home Office registered sponsor.
If you have instructed legal representatives and you are unhappy with their conduct you can contact us to discuss your case so that we can provide you with a case assessment. To contact one of our Immigration Solicitors or Immigration Barristers please complete our legal case assessment form and we will get in touch or call us now on 02071830570 for a telephone assessment.