Immigration: Tier 2 changes announced by UK Government
In 2015 the Government commissioned the independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to review two areas:
- In June 2015 the MAC was asked to advise the Government on restricting Tier 2 to genuine skills shortages and highly specialised experts, but with sufficient flexibility to include high value roles and key public service workers.
- In October 2015 MAC undertook a review of review of nursing shortages.
On 24 March 2016, the Government’s Minister for Immigration, James Brokenshire, announced the Government’s response to the above two reviews:
For Tier 2 (General)
- Autumn 2016: Tier 2 (General) minimum salary threshold will be increased to £25,000 (whilst maintaining the current threshold of £20,800 for new entrants).
- April 2017: Tier 2 (General) minimum salary threshold will be increased to £30,000 for experienced workers (whilst maintaining the current threshold of £20,800 for new entrants).
- Nurses, medical radiographers, paramedics and teachers in mathematics, physics, chemistry, computer science and Mandarin, will be exempt from the new salary threshold until 2019.
- will be weighted more heavily in the Tier 2 (General) limit and thus graduates will be able to switch roles within a company once they have secured a permanent role at the end of their training programme.
Resident Labour Market Test
- will be waived and extra weighting will be given within the Tier 2 (General) limit where the allocation of places is associated with the relocation of a high-value business to the UK or, potentially, supports an inward investment.
- will remain on the Shortage Occupation List but employers will need to carry out a Resident Labour Market Test before recruiting a non-EEA nurse.
- Nurses, medical radiographers, paramedics and teachers in mathematics, physics, chemistry, computer science and Mandarin will be exempt from the new salary threshold until 2019.
- MAC’s recommendations that students switching from Tier 4 to Tier 2 should be included in the annual limit and be subject to the Resident Labour Market Test will not be implemented.
For Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer (ICT))
Visa system to be simplified
- for both applicants and sponsors requiring all intra-company transferees (except graduate trainees) to qualify under a single route with a minimum salary threshold of £41,500. By April 2017, we will have closed the Skills Transfer and Short Term visa categories to new applications.
ICT Graduate Trainees
- will continue to be a separate ICT category for graduate trainees, with a lower salary threshold of £23,000 and an increased limit of 20 places per company per year, rather than 5 places as at present.
Higher earners threshold to be lowered
- from £155,300 to £120,000 for transferees looking to stay in the UK for between 5 and 9 years.
Transferees paid over £73,900
- will no longer require the one year experience requirement
Immigration Health Surcharge
- All transferees will be required to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge the use of allowances will be reviewed.
The following MAC recommendations will not be implemented
- That ICTs should be required to have worked for their company for two years, rather than 12 months.
- Transferees working on third party contracts should be restricted to a separate category.
Across both Tier 2 routes
Immigration Skills Charge
- will be levied on Tier 2 employers at a rate of £1,000 per person per year from April 2017. A reduced rate of £364 per person per year will apply to small and charitable sponsors. PhD roles, Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) Graduate Trainees, and Tier 4 to Tier 2 switchers will be exempt.
NQF Levels 3 and 4
- transitional arrangements for workers sponsored at NQF levels 3 and 4 will be closed over the next two years.
Immigration Rules for work categories will be simplified, making them easier for sponsors and applicants to understand.
The Government intends to have completed implementation of all of the above by the deadlines stipulated above and the remainder by April 2017.
This briefing is for guidance purposes only. RadcliffesLeBrasseur LLP accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever for any action taken or not taken in relation to this note and recommends that appropriate legal advice be taken having regard to a client's own particular circumstances.