Changes to be introduced to the UK’s immigration system in 2016
Once again it is that time of year where UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) has introduced a number of changes to the UK Immigration system, the majority of the changes will come in be rolled out in two batches.
On 18th March 2016 we saw the Government fees increase by a huge 25% and introduced nearly 3 weeks earlier than they usually are.
The first set of changes which we will see rolled out will be in Autumn 2016 and the second set in April 2017, so it seems UK Visas and Immigration are now giving UK businesses to prepare, however these changes will significantly affect businesses employing workers from outside the European Union.
What are these changes and how will the affect businesses?
Changes in salary thresholds
The minimum salary threshold applicable to Tier 2 (General) Skilled Workers will be increased to £25,000 per annum in Autumn 2016, thereafter in April 2017, the threshold will further increase to £30, 000 per annum.
At present the salary threshold is set at £20,800, and this will have a huge impact most businesses, especially the small ones.
There are certain exemptions from the new salary thresholds, they will not apply to public sector employees until July 2019 and the salary threshold for ‘new entrants’ will remain at £20,800.
Changes to Tier 2 ICT route
Immigration Health Surcharge
At present Tier 2 (General) migrants are subject to paying a fee of £200 per year for themselves and each family member accompanying them to the UK, this surcharge allows them access to the UK’s NHS services should they be required.
Effective Autumn 2016 Tier 2 Intra-Company Transferees will also be subject to paying surcharge for which they were previously exempt from.
Simplifying the Tier 2 ICT Route
The government plan on closing the subcategories of, Tier 2 ICT Skills transfer in Autumn 2016 and by April 2017 Tier 2 ICT Short Term.
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.
Presently the limit for a UK company to transfer Graduate Trainees under the Tier 2 ICT Graduate Trainee route is set at 5 per annum, the government are set to increase this limit to 25 per annum in Autumn 2016 and they will also drop the minimum salary threshold to £23,000 per annum, which currently stands at £24,800 per annum.
On completion of the graduate training programme the graduate will be entitled to switch roles within the company providing they have secured a permanent role.
Immigration Skills Charge
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 costs which comes at the cost of the employer, along with the costs of the Certificate of Sponsorship, Immigration Health Surcharge, other relocation costs, they now have the burden of the Immigration Skills Charge.
There is a reduction in the Immigration Skills Charge which is payable by small and charitable businesses, they will be required to pay £364 per annum.
I think we can rest assured that this additional fee will most likely reduce UK businesses bringing employees to the UK and will also impact the business. I am sure 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 non-EU employees minus the following:
- PhD level jobs
- International Students who are switching from a Tier 4 visa to a Tier 2 work visa
- Intra-Company Transfer Graduate Trainee
Applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain
From 6 April 2016, those applying for settlement under the arrangements of Tier 2 and who entered Tier 2 under the rules in force from 6 April 2011 must be paid at least £35,000 per annum or the going rate in the relevant UK Visas and Immigration Code of Practice, whichever is higher
The minimum salary requirement will continue to increase as follows:
- £35,500 if the date of application is on or after 6 April 2018
- £35,800 if the date of application is on or after 6 April 2019
- £36,200 if the date of application is on or after 6 April 2020
Other than for those who entered under the rules before 6 April 2011, the minimum salary threshold will also not apply if the Certificate of Sponsorship which led to the applicant’s most recent grant of leave was for a job which:
- appears on the list of PhD-level occupation codes as stated in the codes of practice
- appears on the Shortage Occupation List in Appendix K
- previously appeared on the Shortage Occupation List, at any time when the applicant
- had leave as a Tier 2 (General) Migrant, in which he/she was sponsored for the applicable job
- either with the same or a different employer, during the continuous 6-year period ending on the date of application for indefinite leave to remain
- was assigned a Certificate of Sponsorship for that job, either with the same or a different employer, which led to a grant of leave as a Tier 2 (General) Migrant during the continuous 6-year period ending on the date of application for indefinite leave to remain
We have highlighted the majority of changes we feel most business will be affected by, should you wish to how any of the above may affect your business or if you require further insight please feel free to contact us on 020 3318 5794 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will of course in the meantime keep you updated on any other changes and news.