As widely anticipated, the latest statement of changes to the immigration rules incorporates the Tier 2 changes announced by the government in March, following the Tier 2 review conducted by the Migration Advisory Committee last year.

A summary of the main changes are set out below and these will come into effect on 24 November 2016.

Tier 2 (General)

  • The salary threshold for experienced workers has been increased to £25,000 for the majority of new applicants (the salary threshold for new entrants has been held at £20,800). An exemption from this increase will apply for nurses, medical radiographers, paramedics and secondary school teachers in mathematics, physics, chemistry, computer science, and Mandarin. The exemption will end in July 2019.
  • As a transitional arrangement, the £25,000 threshold will not apply to workers sponsored in Tier 2 (General) before 24 November 2016, if they apply to extend their stay in the category. The Government intends to increase the threshold to £30,000 in April 2017; there will be no such transitional arrangement for workers sponsored in Tier 2 (General) between 24 November 2016 and April 2017 – they will need to satisfy the £30,000 threshold in any future application.
  • UK graduates who have returned overseas have been weighted more heavily in the monthly allocation rounds under the Tier 2 limit. Graduates who apply in the UK continue to be exempt from the limit. A change is being made to facilitate changes of occupation for applicants sponsored in graduate training programmes. This enables them to change occupation within the programme or at the end of the programme, without their sponsor needing to carry out a further Resident Labour Market Test or for them to make a new application.

The following additional changes to Tier 2 (General) are being made:

  • From April 2017 a change to the Rules around advertising via a milkround will be introduced to close a loophole in which a sponsor can offer a job to a migrant 4 years after carrying out a milkround, without the need for a further recruitment search. Sponsors can continue to rely on a milkround which ended up to 4 years prior to assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship, but only providing the migrant was offered the job within 6 months of that milkround taking place.
  • Following a separate review by the MAC on nursing shortages, nurses are being retained on the Shortage Occupation List, but a change is being made to require a Resident Labour Market Test to have been carried out before a nurse is assigned a Certificate of Sponsorship.

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

  • The salary for short term ICT applicants has been increased to £30,000 for new applicants. A transitional arrangement applies for those already in the UK under the short term route.
  • The closure of the Skills Transfer sub-category to new applicants.
  • Changes to the Graduate Trainee sub-category. The salary threshold has been reduced from £24,800 to £23,000 and the number of places a sponsor can use has been increased from 5 to 20 per year.