Important changes to Tier 2, the migration route for those undertaking skilled work in the UK are due to come into force on 6 April 2017.
These are as follows:
Changes to Tier 2 (General) route
- Minimum salary thresholds for experienced workers will increase from £25,000 to £30,000. However, minimum thresholds for new entrants of £20,800 remains unchanged.
- Sponsors will be required to carry out a Resident Labour Market Test (“RLMT”) when recruiting non EEA nurses, although nursing remains on the Shortage Occupation List. This is to encourage employment of nurses from the UK and EEA.
- Visa holders will be required to start their employment in the UK within four weeks of the start date listed on their Certificate of Sponsorship (“CoS”). Currently they have three months from the date a CoS is assigned in which to start work.
- Certificate of Sponsorships will only be approved for positions on the Shortage Occupation List if the migrant works a minimum of 30 hours per week.
- Visa applicants and their partners will have to submit criminal record certificates if entering the UK to work in the education, health or social care sectors.
Changes to the Tier 2 (ICT) route
- The ICT Short term staff category will close to new applicants in April 2017, leaving only the Long-term staff and Graduate Trainee routes available. This means the new minimum salary requirement for a Tier 2 ICT application will be £41,500, unless it is an application under the Tier 2 ICT Graduate Trainee route, in which case it remains £23,000.
- The minimum salary threshold requirement for High Earners (who are permitted to work in the UK for between 5-9 years) will be reduced from £155,300 to £120,000.
- The requirement for migrants to have at least one year prior experience with the overseas entity will be removed for migrants earning over £73,900 a year.
Introduction of the Immigration Skills Charge
From April 2017, all Tier 2 employers (whether General or ICT) will have to pay an Immigration Skills Charge of £1,000 per migrant per year (reduced rate of £364 for small businesses and charities). This new charge is designed to encourage businesses to invest in apprenticeships and training of the UK workforce, encouraging them to source their workforce from the UK labour market and reduce their reliance on migrant workers.
PHD occupation roles, ICT Graduate Trainees and students switching from Tier 4 to Tier 2 will be exempt from paying the Immigration Skills Charge
The cost of recruiting talent from outside the UK and EEA continues to rise. With the introduction of the Apprenticeship levy (coming into force April 2017 – see our newsletter) there is clearly a focus on up-skilling the UK labour market to avoid skills shortages and to reduce the reliance on migrants in the future.
Immigration Law is a fast changing area and employers should ensure they are up to date with the frequent changes in this field. Join us at our free webinar on 25 May 2017 when we will be discussing these changes in more detail.
Consistent with our policy when giving comment and advice on a non-specific basis, we cannot assume legal responsibility for the accuracy of any particular statement. In the case of specific problems we recommend that professional advice be sought.