UK: Home Office Outline Impending Immigration Changes

On 16th March, the Home Office sent out a communication outlining the main changes to the immigration rules. Below are the key changes that will affect employers of overseas workers (Tier 2 Sponsors) from 6th April 2017, as per the Home Office communication:

Overseas criminal record certificates

We are extending the requirement to provide a criminal record certificate to Tier 2 (General) applicants coming to work in the education, health and social care sectors and to their adult dependants.

A certificate will be required for applicants sponsored in these Standard Occupation Classification codes. Applicants in these codes outside of the Tier 2 (General) route, such as Intra-company Transfers are not affected.

Certificates will also be required from partners applying from overseas, on or after 6th April 2017 who want to join an existing Tier 2 (General) visa holder working in one of these sectors.

Immigration Skills Charge

As previously announced in March 2016, an Immigration Skills Charge of £1000 per skilled worker per year is being introduced for employers in the Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) routes. The charge is £364 for small and charitable sponsors.

There are exemptions for PhD-level occupations, Intra-company Transfer Graduate Trainees and those switching from Tier 4 to Tier 2 in the UK. Income raised from the charge will be used to address skills gaps in the workforce.

As with other sponsorship and visa fees, the charge is payable by debit or credit card only. You may wish to make arrangements with your bank or credit card provider to ensure your card limit is sufficient, particularly sponsors who choose to assign a large number of certificates of sponsorship at one time. For further details of this change, please revert to our previous article.

Immigration Health Surcharge

Introduced in 2015, the surcharge is paid by non-EEA nationals who apply to come to the UK to work, study or join family for a period of more than 6 months. It is also paid by non-EEA nationals who are already in the UK and apply to extend their stay.

From 6th April 2017, those applying for a Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) will be required to pay a surcharge of £200 per person per year. Dependants pay around the same amount as the main applicant.

Other changes to Tier 2 applications

  • Secondary school teachers in combined science, computer science and Mandarin are being added to the Shortage Occupation List. Secondary school teachers in chemistry are being removed from the list.
  • Increasing the minimum salary that sponsors can offer a Tier 2 (General) worker from £25,000 to £30,000 for experienced workers. Some jobs in the health and education sectors are exempt until 1st July 2019.
  • Closing the Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) Short Term Staff category, meaning that all ICT workers, except graduate trainees, must qualify under a single route with a salary threshold of £41,500.
  • Reducing the high-earners’ salary for the Intra-company Transfer Long Term Staff category from £155,300 to £120,000. These high earners can stay in the route for up to nine years, rather than the usual five years.
  • Removing the requirement for Intra-company Transfer workers to have at least one year’s experience working for the sponsor’s linked entity overseas, for applicants paid £73,900 or above.
  • Introducing a waiver for the Resident Labour Market Test and an exemption from the Tier 2 (General) limit for posts which support the relocation of a high value business to the UK or a significant new inward investment project.
  • Annual updates to the occupational salary rates in the codes of practice.
  • Changes to provide greater clarity and consistency as to which types of allowance will be considered against the salary requirements.

Our advice

As these changes are coming into effect in just under three weeks, we advise employers to initiate all Tier 2 applications as soon as possible to avoid incurring the £1,000 per year Immigration Skills Charge and the new minimum salary of £30,000 for experienced workers.

Please contact your immigration consultant at Newland Chase to initiate new applications prior to the impending changes. If you have any questions about the new immigration rules, please contact us at enquiries@newlandchase.com.

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