The Government has announced changes to Tier 2, the main immigration route for non-EEA nationals to apply to work in the UK. The Government says that these changes are to ensure that employers are incentivised to upscale and train resident workers whilst making sure they can continue to access migrant workers when needed. The changes to this immigration route will come into effect in two stages, autumn 2016 and April 2017, to ensure that businesses have sufficient time to prepare. The main changes are:
Increase to minimum salary threshold for Tier 2 general applicants
The salary threshold for experienced workers applying for a Tier 2 (General) visa will be increased to £25,000 in autumn 2016 and £30,000 in April 2017. This increase will not apply to certain public sector roles such as nurses, paramedics and certain teaching roles, until July 2019. The minimum threshold of £20,800 for new entrants will be maintained.
Simplified Tier 2 intra-company transfer (ICT) route
The current ICT provisions are being simplified by the Government. From Autumn 2016 it will close down the Tier 2 ICT sub-categories of Skills Transfer and Short Term (April 2017). From then on, all ICTs will qualify under a single visa category with a minimum salary threshold of £41,500 with the exception of graduate trainees.
Nurses to remain on Shortage Occupations List
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.
Immigration Skills Charge for UK employers
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 the rate of £364 for smaller businesses and charities, and an exemption for PhD occupations, Tier 2 (ICT) graduate trainees and Tier 4 students switching to Tier 2.