Aide-mémoire of changes to the UK Immigration system
In April 2016, the UK Government made several changes to the UK immigration system, a few were introduced immediately, however the remainder will be rolled out by Autumn 2016 and April 2017.
To ensure employers are not caught out by these changes we have highlighted them below ahead of time, to make sure you can prepare for these and plan your business needs ahead of time.
Changes to take effect in Autumn 2016
The Tier 2 minimum salary threshold will be increased to £30,000 for experienced workers, this will happen in two stages at present the minimum threshold is set at £20,800. This change will be phased in, with the minimum threshold increased to £25,000 in Autumn 2016 and to £30,000 in April 2017. The increase is a substantial one, which will no doubt lead businesses to suffer if they are unable to pay the additional £9,200.
At present employers are able to recruit non-EEA graduates of UK universities without first conducting the resident labour market and without being subject to the annual limit on Tier 2 (General) places, which remains at 20,700 places per year. In addition to this, the government will give extra weighting within the Tier 2 (General) limit to businesses sponsoring overseas graduates, and will allow graduates to switch roles within a company once they have secured a permanent job at the end of their training programme. This is a positive change and will hopefully see more student being able to utilise their studies in the UK.
In Autumn 2016, the UKVI will close the Tier 2 (Skills Transfer) category for new applications and increase the minimum salary threshold for the Tier 2 (Short Term) category to £30,000.
Tier 2 Intra-company transferees will be required to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge. UKVI are yet to review the extent to which allowances may be counted as salary to ensure they have appropriate safeguards in place against undercutting of the resident labour market and consider how to take forward the MAC’s proposal for a review of skills in the IT sector.
Changes to come in to effect April 2017
UKVI will close the Tier 2 (Short Term) category for new applications from April 2017. Closing two of the sub-categories is meant to simplify the route and also on staff with specialist skills and senior management are transferred to the UK for legitimate business purposes.
In an attempt to provide some further flexibility within the streamlined intra-company transfer category, the Government will lower the minimum salary threshold for intra-company transferees working in the UK for between five and nine years from £155,300 to £120,000. They will also remove the one-year experience requirement for all applications where the worker is paid over £73,900.
Last year the Migration Advisory Committee suggested the introduction of an ‘Immigration Skills charge’, in an attempt to reduce demand for migrant labour. The Government have taken the recommendation on board and will introduce the ‘Immigration Skills Charge’ in April 2017.
The Immigration Skills Charge will stand at £1000 per annum and will be payable by UK employers and businesses for Tier 2 employees. This is another huge cost which must be borne by the employer, along with the costs of the Certificate of Sponsorship, Immigration Health Surcharge, other relocation costs.
There is a however a reduction in the Immigration Skills Charge which is payable by small and charitable businesses, which is set at £364 per annum.
It is our apprehension that this additional fee will most likely hinder UK employers to employ migrant employees from overseas which would undoubtedly have severe impact on their business operations. Most businesses will agree this is an unjust payment they are required to make. However, no matter how unjust it may be, it will be payable for the majority of employees except the following:
- PhD level jobs;
- International Students who are switching from a Tier 4 visa to a Tier 2 work visa; and
- Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer Graduate Trainee.
It is important that employers consider the above for future projects to allow them to forecast how their businesses will be affected and if they are required to take any action.
To discuss any of these changes in detail, please contact one of our London Immigration Lawyers on +44 (0)20 3318 5794 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.