Upcoming Changes to Tier 2 visas
The latest version of the Tier 2 & 5 Guidance was published on 15 February 2017, with an Addendum to changes which will be taking effect from 6 April 2017.
Sponsors will need to make note of the following changes which has been taken from the guidance and may possibly affect their businesses.
Subject to parliamentary approval, legislation expected to come into force on 6 April 2017 means that you may be required to pay the Immigration Skills Charge where you sponsor a worker from outside the European Economic Area (EEA).
The skills charge will apply to a sponsor of a Tier 2 worker assigned a certificate of sponsorship in the ‘General’ or ‘Intra-company Transfer’ route and who will be applying from:
- outside the UK for a visa
- inside the UK to switch to this visa from another visa
- inside the UK to extend their existing visa
The skills charge does not apply if you are sponsoring:
- a non-EEA national who was sponsored in Tier 2 before 6 April 2017 and is applying from inside the UK to extend their Tier 2 stay with either the same sponsor or a different sponsor
- a Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) Graduate Trainee
- a worker to do a specified PhD level occupation
- a Tier 4 student visa holder in the UK switching to a Tier 2 (General) visa You do not have to pay the skills charge for the worker’s family members (‘dependants’).
The skills charge will be £1,000 per year for medium or large sponsors and £364 per year for small or charitable sponsors. It will be payable upfront and for the total period of time covered by the certificate of sponsorship.
How can I determine if I am a small sponsor?
You will be considered to be a small business if:
- your annual turnover is £10.2 million or less
- you have 50 employees or fewer
Sponsors will need to pay the skills charge at the same time that they pay to assign a certificate of sponsorship to sponsor someone to do a skilled job in the UK.
The Government claims that the monies collected by the Home Office from the Skills Charge will be used to address skills gaps in the UK workforce.
Overseas criminal record certificates
As of April 2017, the Government plans to extend the requirement to provide a criminal record certificate to Tier 2 visa applicants coming to work in education, health and social care sectors and to their adult dependants. At present this requirement exists for Tier 1 Entrepreneur and Investors.
The Home Office claims this requirement is being introduced to strengthen safeguards against those with a criminal history seeking to come to the UK.
Applicants subject to this requirement will need to submit a criminal record certificate from each country in which they have resided continuously or cumulatively for 12 months or more in the 10 years before making their application. Their adult dependants will also be subject to this requirement.
We advise sponsors that they should inform prospective employees of the new requirement as early as possible to ensure they are made aware in advance of its introduction in April 2017 and have sufficient time to obtain the relevant documentation.
The new requirement will apply to any Tier 2 applicant sponsored to fill a vacancy covered by one of the standard occupation classification (SOC) codes, listed here on pages 2 and 3 of the guidance.
Certificate of Sponsorship start date
The following change will be made to Paragraph 23.9 of the Tier 2 guidance:
“23.9 The start date given on the CoS must be the date that the migrant will start working for you. A migrant can be granted entry clearance no more than 14 days before the start date given on the CoS. Once the entry clearance has been granted, it is possible to delay this start date but, in the case of a Tier 2 (General) migrant, any revised start date cannot be put back more than 4 weeks from the original start date on the CoS. Under Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer (ICT)), it is possible for the start date to surpass the 4 weeks as long as the migrant continues to be paid by the sending overseas entity”.
At present this paragraph states:
“The start date given on the CoS must be the date that the migrant will start working for you. If the migrant is in the UK with a CoS which has been used to support an application for leave to enter, or remain in the UK , it is possible to put this start date back but the start date cannot be put back by more than 4 weeks. There is a function within your SMS account to do this. The ‘SMS user guide’ has more information on how to use the ‘Sponsorship duties’ function”.
Resident Labour Market Test for shortage occupations
The guidance at paragraph 28.7 about the exemption of carrying out a resident labour market test for a job in a shortage occupation is being revised. This will now state:
“28.7 You do not have to carry out a resident labour market test before assigning a Tier 2 (General) certificate of sponsorship (CoS) to fill a job in a shortage occupation in Appendix K of the Immigration Rules. The exception is if the job is in the occupation code ‘2231 Nurses’, where you must carry out a resident labour market test. You can only assign a CoS for a job on the shortage occupation list if the migrant will work for a minimum of 30 hours per week”.
This paragraph currently states:
“You do not have to carry out a resident labour market test before assigning a Tier 2 (General) certificate of sponsorship (CoS) to fill a job in a shortage occupation. You can only assign a CoS for a job on the shortage occupation list if the migrant will work for a minimum of 30 hours per week”.
The guidance at paragraph 29.2 about the timing of recruitment exercises and assigning a CoS has been revised. It now states if a migrant is recruited via a Milkround, a CoS must be assigned within 48 months of the Milkround taking place (for CoS assigned from 6 April 2017, the migrant must have been offered the job within 6 months of the Milkround recruitment campaign ending).
Should you have any questions in this regard or require further information, please get in touch with one of our UK Immigration Lawyers on +44(0) 20 3318 5794 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.