From time to time, employers may need to employ skilled workers from outside the EU and a Tier 2 visa is one of the core routes into the UK for such people. However, there are strict requirements around Tier 2 visas. We have recently advised several multi-national organisations to fill roles in the UK with skilled workers on Tier 2 visas.
Cooling off period
When any Tier 2 migrant leaves the UK, a cooling off period is applied which prevents them from returning to the UK in any Tier 2 category until 12 months has passed from the date either their visa expires or their leaving the UK (e.g. if their employment ends prematurely).
The only exceptions to the “cooling-off period” are to those (1) with a salary of £155,300 per annum or more, (2) whose last Tier 2 Certificate of Sponsorship was granted for three months or less and (3) if they held a Tier 2 (ICT) Short Term, Skills Transfer or Graduate visa and are now eligible under Tier 2 (ICT) Long Term visa.
As a result of the cooling off period, it’s important to ensure that the category of visa selected for the employee at the outset is appropriate to the individual circumstances.
Changes to settlement requirements
From 6 April 2016, Tier 2 (General) migrants wishing to apply for settlement must earn either a gross salary of £35,000 per year or the appropriate salary for their job as set out in the Codes of Practice, whichever is higher.
It should be noted that taken together with the six year limit on the duration of stay for Tier 2 (General) migrants, the changes may put pressure on employers who could lose personnel where they are unable to meet the new settlement requirements and have no option but to leave the UK with no right to return within 12 months in the same category.
If this does apply, you should revisit your head count in advance.
Please contact us if you require advice on business immigration issues, such as how to become a sponsor or ensuring that your staff have the necessary visas.