Further Changes To Tier 2 Announced By The Government

30th March 2016 by

On 24 March 2016, James Brokenshire announced that the Home Office will implement the Migration Advisory Committee’s (MAC) recommendations, arising out of their review of the Tier 2 Points Based System. The implementation will be staged, with some changes coming into force in autumn 2016 and further changes in April 2017.

Whilst the Statement of Changes HC 877 (published on 11 March 2016) outlined minor changes, the implementation of MAC’s recommendations forms the majority of the now large-scale changes; put in place as part of the Government’s plan to reduce migrant worker dependency in the UK and net migration figures as a whole.

Changes to be implemented by autumn 2016:

Tier 2 (General):

  • Increase salary threshold for experienced workers from £20,800 to £25,000. Some health and education professionals (namely nurses, paramedics, radiographers and secondary school teachers in Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Computer Science and Mandarin) will be exempt from the higher threshold until July 2019.
  • The Tier 2 (general) annual limit of 20,700 for Restricted Certificates of Sponsorship will remain in place.
  • Nurses will remain on the Shortage Occupation List but sponsors will need to carry out a Resident Labour Market Test before recruiting a nurse who is a non-EEA national.

Tier 2 (Graduate Trainee):

  • Reduce salary requirement from £24,800 to £23,000 and increase the number of places available to companies from 5 to 20 places per year.
  • Enable graduates to switch roles once they secure a permanent job.

Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer (ICT)):

  • All ICT migrants will need to qualify under a single visa category with a minimum salary threshold of £41,500 with the exception of graduate trainees.
  • Tier 2 (ICT-Skills Transfer) to close to new applications.
  • All ICT migrants will be required to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge.

Changes to be implemented by April 2017:

Tier 2 (General):

  • Increase salary threshold for experienced workers by another £5,000, taking the new minimum salary to £30,000. Exemption to the aforementioned health and education professionals remains until July 2019.
  • Tier 4 students switching to a Tier 2 visa will not be subject to a limit on numbers and their sponsor will not have to carry out a Resident Labour Market Test.

Tier 2 (Graduate Trainee):

  • No further changes.

Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer (ICT)):

  • Tier 2 (ICT-Short Term Staff) to close to new applications.
  • Reduce the minimum salary threshold for Long Term (ICT) higher earners from £155,300 to £120,000.
  • Remove the ‘one year’ prior experience cap and introduce a minimum salary of £73,900 in the UK for Long Term ICT migrants.

Immigration Skills Charge (ISC):

  • Levy an ISC on Tier 2 employers of £1,000 per person, per year with a reduced rate of £364 for smaller businesses and charities. Exemption available for PhD students, Tier 2 (ICT Graduate Trainees) and Tier 4 students switching to Tier 2.

One crucial change, which was considered by the government but will not be coming into effect, is a restriction on dependants of Tier 2 migrants. The government has confirmed that there will continue to be no restriction on the automatic right to work in the UK for dependants of Tier 2 migrants.

The government plans to implement the changes to the Immigration Rules for work categories by April 2017. The aim of such changes is to simplify the Rules, making them easier for sponsors and applicants to understand and use.

For further information on the changes, please contact the Head of our Immigration Department, Ivon Sampson on 020 7822 4000 or email Ivon.Sampson@healys.com.