On March 4 2013 the UK Border Agency published its latest statement of intent – accepting the Migration Advisory Committee's recommendations on changes to appropriate salary rates for occupations – which will come into effect on April 6 2013. The main changes are as follows:

  • Pay thresholds for experienced workers should be set at the 25th percentile (which allows for regional and industry variation in salaries without over-complicating the system) for full-time employees in each occupation, using the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings.
  • A new, lower pay threshold for new entrant employees should be set at the 10th percentile of the pay distribution for full-time employees in that occupation.
  • New entrants should be subject to the 25th percentile threshold when applying for leave to remain after three years. In practice, this will include any extension applications which take the migrant's stay in Tier 2 or under the work permit arrangements beyond three years, including settlement applications.
  • For some occupations (eg, those in the health and education sectors, part-qualified architects and barristers undertaking pupillages), the appropriate rates should use bespoke pay scales rather than the rates for new entrant and experienced employees. These occupations will not be subject to the above rules on pay progression.

'New entrant employees' are defined as:

  • graduates switching from Tier 4 to Tier 2 under Border Agency post-study provisions;
  • graduate recruits whose employer has used a university 'milkround' to satisfy the Resident Labour Market Test;
  • those sponsored under the Intra-Company Transfer Graduate Trainee route; and
  • anyone aged 25 or under on the date of their initial Tier 2 application (analysis has shown that workers normally reach the 25th percentile by age 26).

In all cases, applicants will not be classed as new entrant employees if they are applying to extend their total stay in Tier 2 or as a work permit holder beyond three years and one month (the maximum grant for initial Tier 2 applications). This is a slight change from the definition proposed by the Migration Advisory Committee, which referred to the number of years since leaving full-time education. This would have required employers and the Border Agency to verify an applicant's educational history. It might also not always have been clear when an applicant left full-time education.

Minimum rates of pay will be increased across the Tier 2 categories as follows:

  • Tier 2 (General) – up from £20,000 to £20,300;
  • Tier 2 (General) jobs which are exempt from advertising in Jobcentre Plus – up from £70,000 to £71,000;
  • Tier 2 (General) jobs which are exempt from the annual limit and the Resident Labour Market Test – up from £150,000 to £152,100;
  • Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) Short Term Staff, Skills Transfer or Graduate Trainee – up from £24,000 to £24,300;
  • Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) Long Term Staff – up from £40,000 to £40,600;
  • Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) for workers who can extend their stay in the United Kingdom for up to nine years – up from £150,000 to £152,100; and
  • Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (Sportsperson) earnings which qualify for settlement – up from £35,000 for settlement applications made on or after April 6 2016 to £35,500 for settlement applications made on or after April 6 2018.

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.

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