The Home Office recently published their Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules.

With the changes having taken effect on 6 April 2017, we have set out below a breakdown of some of the principle changes that will impact our clients.

The Immigration Skills Charge

A new charge will be introduced for the Tier 2 (General) and (Intra-Company Transfer (ICT)) categories. Although limited exceptions apply, the majority of businesses will now have to pay an additional cost of £1,000 per migrant worker, per year in order to recruit key non-EEA talent.

The Immigration Health Surcharge

Many migrants are required to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) to help fund the National Health Service (NHS) and provide migrants with the same access to the NHS as UK citizens.

Tier 2 (ICT) migrants were previously exempt from this charge but now, along with their dependants, they will have to pay £200 per person, per year.

Overseas Criminal Records certificates

Workers in the education, health and social care sectors will be required to provide a criminal records certificate for each country they have lived in for 12 months or more for the previous 10 years. Partners applying from overseas on or after 6 April 2017 who want to join an existing Tier 2 (General) visa holder working in one of these sectors will also have to provide a certificate. This requirement is likely to increase the time it takes for a migrant to collate the necessary documentation and submit their visa application.

Changes to salary

The minimum salary for Tier 2 (General) migrants will increase from £25,000 to £30,000 for experienced workers. New entrants will still be subject to the current minimum salary of £20,800. The relevant codes of practice should be consulted to determine the appropriate rate for the particular job.

Businesses sponsoring 'high earner' migrants will continue to be exempt from carrying out a Resident Labour Market Test and from applying to the Home Office for a 'restricted' Certificate of Sponsorship. The 'high earner' salary threshold will, however, increase from £155,300 to £159,600.

The Resident Labour Market Test

A new Resident Labour Market Test exemption will be introduced for Tier 2 (General) posts which support the relocation of a high value business to the UK or a significant new inward investment project. The sponsor must be a newly-registered branch (within the last three years) or a subsidiary of an overseas business and the investment must involve capital expenditure of £27 million or the creation of at least 21 new UK jobs. These requirements are incredibly specific and may prove to be difficult to achieve. However they offer a lot of promise for smaller start-up companies with considerable funding looking to build their business.

ICT workers

The Tier 2 (ICT) (Short-Term Staff) category will close, meaning that, following the closure of the Skills Transfer category in November 2016, all ICT migrants (except graduate trainees) must now earn a minimum salary of £41,500. For senior ICT migrants, who are able to extend their total stay in the category to up to nine years, the salary threshold will be reduced from £155,300 to £120,000.

The requirement for ICT migrants to have 12 months' prior employment with a sponsor group company will be removed for those earning a salary of £73,900 or above. This change will make it easier for businesses to transfer (newly recruited) staff from its overseas entities at short notice, in order to respond to the needs of the business and its clients.