The MAC has published its long-awaited report recommending (and so non-binding) changes to the Tier 2 Framework. This is to help achieve the Government's overall goal to reduce net migration. Whilst non-binding, based on past experience, the Government will at the very least adopt the more protectionist recommendations.
In overview, the MAC has recommended increasing the overall financial cost to Tier 2 sponsors, rather than a draconian restriction of Tier 2 to Senior Specialist / Shortage Occupation roles. Nonetheless, recommendations to create a "global" cap for Tier 2 General applications submitted in and out of country, and increasing the minimum tenure for Short and Long Term Staff applications, will adversely impact UK employers of a global workforce.
Some of the MAC's key recommendations include:
- Introducing an Immigration Skills Charge (ISC) for all Tier 2 Migrants (except Tier 2 ICT Skills Transfer Migrants / Graduate Trainees). The MAC has recommended a charge of £1,000 per migrant per year. This would not apply to accompanying family members
- Maintenance of a right to work for Tier 2 Dependants
Tier 2 General
- The Annual Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship (COS) limit is currently set at 20,700. However, this does not include those applications submitted from within the UK. The MAC recommends that an expanded limit be introduced encompassing applications submitted from within the UK
- Subjecting applications, which are presently exempt, to the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT), e.g. those who are switching from eligible Tier 4 General Student visas to Tier 2 General. Those meeting the High Earner threshold (presently £155,300) should remain exempt from the RLMT
- Raising the overall minimum salary threshold from £20,800 to £30,000 for Experienced Hires and £23,000 for New Entrants. The salary will continue to be also subject to the minimum salary threshold in the Code of Practice (COP), i.e. the higher of the two figures will apply
Tier 2 Intra-Company Transferees (ICTs)
- Presently, before individuals can apply under the Tier 2 Short / Long Term Staff sub-categories, they must have had at least 12 months tenure with a group company outside of the UK. The MAC recommends that this be increased to 24 months
- Extending the Immigration Health Surcharge to ICT Migrants and their accompanying family members
- Raising the overall minimum salary threshold for short-term ICT applications from £24,800 to £30,000. The salary will continue to be also subject to the minimum salary threshold in the COP i.e. the higher of the two figures will apply
We await the Government's response and will update accordingly. Any changes, once adopted, will realistically apply to applications submitted from 6 April 2016. Clients are advised, where possible, to submit any Tier 2 applications prior to the forthcoming changes.