Tier 1
Tier 2
Tier 5
Action required

Changes to the Immigration Rules were introduced on April 6 2014, which will significantly affect several visa routes.

Tier 1

The Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa route is now available to leading talent in the digital technology sector, as Tech City UK has been added to the list of bodies that can endorse visa applications. Previously, the only bodies that could endorse individuals within this category were the Arts Council England, British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society. The exceptional talent category has an overall limit of 1,000 visas a year, 200 of which will be allocated to Tech City.

Maintenance amounts will increase from July 1 2014. Tier 1 (General) migrants extending their stay in the United Kingdom will need to have held £945 for 90 days, up from £900.

Tier 2

Leave and maintenance
Sponsors will now be able to grant Tier 2 migrants five years' leave. This follows the earlier announcement of the proposed fees for this application: £1,028 for overseas applicants and £1,202 for those applying in the United Kingdom.

The maintenance amount for Tier 2 migrants has also increased. From July 1 2014, Tier 2 migrants will need £945 in maintenance and their dependants will need £630 each. However, sponsors can continue to certify maintenance by confirming that they are happy to do so on the certificate of sponsorship.

Salary thresholds
Following the announcement of updated salary rates for skilled employees (for further details please see "Salary rates for Tier 2 to be updated"), annual updates will be made to the absolute minimum salary thresholds for each Tier 2 category. The following minimum salary rises entered into force on April 6 2014:

  • Tier 2 (General) rose from £20,300 to £20,500.
  • Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) for short-term staff, skills transfers and graduate trainees rose from £24,300 to £24,500.
  • Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) for long-term staff rose from £40,600 to £41,000.

Appropriate salary rates for each standard occupational classification (SOC) code have also individually been reviewed, with some increases and some decreases.

Resident labour market test advertising
The following increases have been made to the salary thresholds with regards to advertising requirements under Tier 2 (General):

  • The salary level at which a role is exempt from being advertised on Jobcentre Plus/Directgov rose from £71,000 to £71,600.
  • The 'high earner' threshold at which a role is exempt from advertising rose from £152,100 to £153,500.

Tier 5

A new category of overseas government-sponsored language teachers has been introduced within the Tier 5 Government-Authorised Exchange route, to enable teachers to share knowledge and awareness of foreign languages and cultures in the United Kingdom. Permission will be granted for up to 24 months and the first of these schemes will support a Mandarin teaching scheme.

Action required

Job advertising carried out before April 6 2014 that is in line with the rules in place at that time will continue to be acceptable. However, the salary listed on the certificate of sponsorship must be in line with the post-April 6 2014 SOC code minimum if the visa application is made after that date.

High earners recruited before April 6 2014 need meet only the pre-April 6 2014 salary threshold of £152,100. Employers should retain evidence that recruitment took place before April 6 2014.

Moreover, migrants should be informed of the new maintenance amounts. For example, Tier 1 (General) migrants will need to have maintenance of £945 for themselves and £630 for each dependant for 90 continuous days if they plan to extend their stay after July 1 2014.

Employers should also review the relevant SOC codes and ensure that existing sponsored workers meet the potentially higher minimum 'experienced worker' rate required for extension applications.

For further information on this topic please contact Ilda De Sousa at Kingsley Napley by telephone (+44 20 7814 1200), fax (+44 20 7490 2288) or email (idesousa@kingsleynapley.co.uk). The Kingsley Napley website can be accessed at www.kingsleynapley.co.uk.