Changes to the UK’s Immigration Rules in April 2017

Changes to the UK’s Immigration Rules in April 2017

March 17, 2017 | Immigration, Latest Thinking, News

Hudson McKenzie would like to remind employers about the changes to the UK’s Immigration Rules to take effect from 6 April 2017.

The main changes being introduced on 6 April are:

Tier 2 Criminal Record Checks

Last year there was news of Criminal Record Checks for Tier 2 migrants and their adult dependant relatives, however, it seems that this will not apply to all Tier 2 migrants, but only to those employed in sectors dealing with the public or minors, i.e. health care, social services, teaching etc., this list is not exhaustive.

A certificate will be required for applicants sponsored in these Standard Occupation Classification codes. Applicants in these codes outside of the Tier 2 (General) route, such as Intra-company Transfers are not affected.

Certificates will also be required from partners applying from overseas, who want to join an existing Tier 2 (General) visa holder working in one of these sectors.

Presently, the criminal records check only apply to Tier 1 Entrepreneur and Tier 1 Investor visa applicants, where they need to produce a reference from a country which they have resided in for 12 months or more.

Immigration Skills Surcharge

As previously announced in March 2016, an Immigration Skills Charge of £1,000 per skilled worker per year is being introduced for employers in the Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) routes. The charge is £364 for small and charitable sponsors.

There are exemptions for PhD-level occupations, Intra-company Transfer Graduate Trainees and those switching from Tier 4 to Tier 2 in the UK. Income raised from the charge will be used to address skills gaps in the workforce.

As with other sponsorship and visa fees, the charge is payable by debit or credit card only.

Immigration Health Surcharge

This was introduced in 2015, the surcharge is payable by non-EEA nationals who apply to come to the UK to work, study or join family for a period of more than 6 months. It is also payable by non-EEA nationals who are already in the UK and apply to extend their stay.

From 6 April 2017, those applying for a Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) will be required to pay a surcharge of £200 per person per year. Dependents pay around the same amount as the main applicant.

Other Changes:

  • Secondary school teachers in combined science, computer science and Mandarin are being added to the Shortage Occupation List. Secondary school teachers in chemistry are being removed from the list.
  • Increasing the minimum salary that sponsors can offer a Tier 2 (General) worker from £25,000 to £30,000 for experienced workers. Some jobs in the health and education sectors are exempt until 1 July 2019.
  • Closing the Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) Short Term Staff category, meaning that all ICT workers, except graduate trainees, must qualify under a single route with a salary threshold of £41,500.
  • Reducing the high-earners’ salary for the Intra-company Transfer Long Term Staff category from £155,300 to £120,000. These high earners can stay in the route for up to nine years, rather than the usual five years.
  • Removing the requirement for Intra-company Transfer workers to have at least one year’s experience working for the sponsor’s linked entity overseas, for applicants paid £73,900 or above.
  • Introducing a waiver for the Resident Labour Market Test and an exemption from the Tier 2 (General) limit for posts which support the relocation of a high value business to the UK or a significant new inward investment project. This will apply where the sponsor is a newly-registered (within the last 3 years) branch or subsidiary of an overseas business and the investment involves new capital expenditure of £27 million or the creation of at least 21 new UK jobs.
  • Annual updates to the occupational salary rates in the codes of practice.
  • Changes to provide greater clarity and consistency as to which types of allowance will be considered against the salary requirements. In addition, the closure of the ICT Short Term Staff sub-category means that accommodation allowances can form a maximum of 30% (rather than 40%) of the total salary package for all ICT workers (except Graduate Trainees).

Should you have any questions regarding changes to the UK’s immigration rules in April 2017, please feel free to contact us on +44(0)20 3318 5794 or via email at londoninfo@hudsonmckenzie.com.