As a reminder, the following changes affecting business immigration are planned to take effect in April this year:

  • Tier 2 salary threshold increases: The second stage of minimum annual salary increases will be implemented, raising the threshold from £25,100 to £30,000.
  • Resident Labour Market Test exemption: ‘High value’ businesses relocating to the UK will be exempt from the resident labour market test requirements and given priority in Tier 2 (General) monthly quota limitations.
  • Tier 2 (ICT – Short Term Staff) will be closed to new applications.
  • Tier 2 (ICT) minimum threshold lowered: The minimum salary threshold for Tier 2 (ICT) higher earners who are able to work in the UK between five and nine years will be reduced from £155,300 to £120,000. The requirement for at least one year prior experience at the overseas entity will be removed for applicants whose UK salary will be £73,900 or over.
  • The minimum annual salary threshold for Tier 2 (ICT) applicants to be exempt from the one (1) year prior experience requirement will be decreased to £73,900.
  • New Immigration Skills Charge: As recommended in the MAC report last year, employers sponsoring Tier 2 migrants will have to pay the Immigration Skills Charge. This new fee will be levied as an upfront charge of £1,000 per licence holder per year. It is yet to be confirmed how the fee will be collected. Exemptions to the skills charge include: Foreign nationals with PhD occupations, Tier 2 (ICT – Graduate Trainee) holders and applicants changing from a Tier 4 (Student) to a Tier 2 (General). Small businesses and charities will be granted a reduced Immigration Skills Charge rate of £364 per holder per year.

What does this mean for employers?

Employers of migrant workers face increased costs per Tier 2 worker affected. Employers are advised to review their mobility requirements in light of these changes. For tech and IT companies considering the impact of the closure of the Tier 2 Short Term ICT route, we are able to advise on alternative entry options to minimise the impact on your business operations.

Mobility of workers remains a key business enabler, where domestic skills shortages are stifling competitive advantage and flexibility is needed to mobilise talent to meet the demands of global business.