6 April tends to bring substantial changes to the Immigration Rules, and this year is no exception. Tier 2 sponsors should be particularly aware of changes to the following:

Application fees

From 6 April 2015, UK Visas & Immigration (“UKVI”) application fees are increasing in most cases. To see the upcoming changes to Tier 2 and sponsorship application fees, please click here.

Sponsors and migrants should also be aware that from 6 April there will be an NHS surcharge applied to applicants in certain categories. Please click here for further details.

Minimum salary thresholds

The annual update has been applied to the minimum salary thresholds. The salary thresholds relating to individual occupations (as set out in Codes of Practice) have also increased in most cases.

To see the revised salary thresholds which will apply from 6 April 2015, please click here.

For a link to the new Codes of Practice and the salary thresholds relating to individual occupations, please click here.

April 2015 deadline for requesting a Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship

For sponsors wishing to submit a request for a Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship (RCoS) for the April 2015 allocation, UKVI will accept applications through to 7 April 2015 (in light of the Easter holiday).

Sponsors should be aware, however, that these RCoS applications will be assessed in line with any changes to the Immigration Rules which come into effect on 6 April 2015. Therefore, sponsors intending to submit RCoS applications must carefully review and take into account such factors as the new minimum salary thresholds, the new Codes of Practice (see more above), and any advertising relied on, before submitting a RCoS application.

The “cooling-off period”

In many cases, the “cooling-off period” prevents a migrant from being granted leave under Tier 2 where that migrant was in the UK under Tier 2 within the previous 12 months.

From 6 April 2015, a minor, significant, change will result in the cooling-off period not applying where the previous Certificate of Sponsorship under Tier 2 was issued for three months or less. The intention behind this change is to improve flexibility for businesses which need to transfer key staff for short periods of time.

Shortage Occupation List

Jobs which are included in the Shortage Occupation List have the main benefit of being exempt from the Resident Labour Market Test.

There is one Shortage Occupation List which covers the whole of the UK, and an additional list for Scotland. The changes to these lists are as follows:

  • changes to graduate occupations in the health sector for both the UK and Scotland list, including the addition of paramedics to the UK list;
  • changes to the existing entry on the UK list for overhead linesworkers in the energy industry; and 
  • the re-classification of some existing entries.

Additionally, as we reported in February 2015, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) recently recommended that ten new roles (four of which are tech-related) be added to the Shortage Occupation List. The tech-related recommendations are a result of lobbying by Tech London Advocates (TLA) and Penningtons Manches LLP’s immigration team. We are continuing to work on the implementation of these changes, along with the other recommendations made by MAC. The Government intends to implement the tech-related changes to the Shortage Occupation List in October 2015 (although this may be subject to change). Once further details of those changes are published, we will provide an update.