From 24 November 2016, the UK Government made changes to the UK Immigration Rules which will affect those who are going to be making a UK Immigration visa application on or after 24 November 2016 (the “Change Date”). A summary of the main changes affecting organisations is provided below.
Tier 2 (General) migrant workers
- The salary threshold for experienced workers has increased to £25,000. An exemption from this increase will apply to nurses, medical radiographers, paramedics and certain secondary school teachers until July 2019.
- The new threshold, and the proposed increase to £30,000 in April 2017, will not apply to workers sponsored before the Change Date when applying to extend their stay in this category. This is also extended to where a sponsor has issued a Certificate of Sponsorship (“CoS”) to a new hire prior to the Change Date but it is used in an application on or after the Change Date.
Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfers (“ICT”)) migrant workers
- The minimum salary threshold for short term ICT has increased from £24,800 to £30,000 for new applicants. This will not apply for those already in the UK before the Change Date and where a sponsor has issued a CoS prior to the Change Date but is used in an application on or after the Change Date.
- The Skills Transfer sub-category has been closed to new applicants.
- To make the Graduate Trainee sub-category more attractive, the following changes have come in:
Graduate Trainees will be allowed to switch between Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes whilst on the programme without their sponsor having to make a change of employment application;
the salary threshold has been reduced from £24,800 to £23,000; and
the number of places a sponsor can use has been increased from five to 20 per year.
It is important that employers make themselves aware of the changes which undoubtedly make it tougher for UK employers to recruit skilled workers. The changes outlined above will be followed by further changes scheduled to be implemented in April 2017, which include the abolition of Tier 2 ICT transferees in the short term staff sub category. Employers should consider the implications on their business and plan accordingly for the closure of the Tier 2 ICT Short Term staff and Tier 2 ICT Skills transfer routes. Both sub categories have proved to be flexible and beneficial routes for employers wishing to transfer staff to the UK for short periods of time.
Should you like to discuss how these changes may affect you or your business, please get in touch.