A&L Goodbody reported on the recommendations arising out of the Migration Advisory Committee's (MAC) Review into Tier 2 Migration in our Immigration E-zine in January 2016.

Today, 24 March 2016, the Government has announced its response to two reviews of Tier 2 policy. Tier 2 is the main immigration route for non-EEA nationals to apply to work in the UK.

We want to ensure that Sponsor Licence holders in Northern Ireland are fully appraised of the proposed changes, so that they might analyse what this will mean for business in practical terms and how they might seek to deal with the consequences.

The main changes include:

  1. Tier 2 (General) salary thresholds for experienced workers will be increased from £20,800 to £25,000 in Autumn 2016, and £30,000 in April 2017. However, some health and education professionals will be exempt from the higher threshold until July 2019. The minimum threshold of £20,800 for new entrants will be maintained;
  2. Tier 4 students switching to a Tier 2 visa will not be subject to a limit on numbers, and their sponsor will not have to carry out a Resident Labour Market Test;
  3. Nurses will remain on the Shortage Occupation List, but sponsors will need to carry out a Resident Labour Market Test before recruiting a non-EEA nurse;
  4. The current intra-company transfer provisions are being simplified by requiring all intra-company transferees to qualify under a single visa category with a minimum salary threshold of £41,500, with the exception of the graduate trainees;
  5. The Immigration Skills Charge will be levied on Tier 2 employers at a rate of £1,000 per person per year from April 2017, with a rate of £364 for smaller businesses and charities, and an exemption for PhD occupations, Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) Graduate Trainees and Tier 4 students switching to Tier 2; and
  6. The Immigration Rules for work categories will be simplified, making them easier for sponsors and applicants to understand and use.*

The changes will come into effect in two stages (Autumn 2016 and April 2017) to ensure that businesses have time to prepare.

A&L Goodbody is the only law firm offering dedicated Corporate Immigration assistance in Northern Ireland and the firm can help employers in every facet of corporate, HR and immigration services. As the UK Government continues to impose stricter requirements for hiring foreign nationals, employer workforces face unprecedented levels of agency scrutiny. These further changes serve to heighten employer's obligations and the need to understand their impact.