The most recent changes to Tier 2 visas have now been announced and will take effect from 24 November 2016. This is the first phase of changes to Tier 2 of the Points-Based system that were announced by the Government in March 2016 following the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) review published in January 2016. The next phase of changes is due to take place in April 2017.
Tier 2 (General) Changes:
- The minimum salary threshold for Tier 2 (General) experienced workers has been increased to £25,000, although the threshold for new entrants remains at £20,800. The Government intends to increase the minimum salary threshold for experienced workers to £30,000 in April 2017. Some health and education professionals are exempt from the higher threshold until July 2019.
- As a transitional arrangement, the £25,000 threshold will not apply to workers sponsored in Tier 2 (General) before 24 November 2016 if they apply to extend their stay in the category.
- However, there will be no such transitional arrangement for workers sponsored in Tier 2 (General) between 24 November 2016 and April 2017. They will need to satisfy the £30,000 threshold in any future application.
- UK graduates who have returned overseas will be weighted more heavily in the monthly allocation rounds under the Tier 2 limit. Graduates who apply in the UK continue to be exempt from the limit.
- Applicants sponsored in graduate training programmes may now change occupation within the programme or at the end of the programme without the need for their sponsor to carry out a further Resident Labour Market Test or for them to make a new application.
- Nurses will stay on the Shortage Occupation List but now a Resident Labour Market Test will need to be carried out before a nurse is assigned a Certificate of Sponsorship.
- Changes have also been made so that switching from Tier 4 (student visas) to Tier 2 is only permitted where the applicant studied at a UK recognised body or body in receipt of public funding as a higher education institution. Applicants are prevented from relying on a qualification obtained via supplementary study.
Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer) Changes:
- The salary threshold for Short Term Intra Company Transfer (ICT) applicants has been increased to £30,000 for new applicants. A transitional arrangement applies for those already in the UK under the Short Term route. This ICT category will be closed to new applicants in April 2017.
- The Skills Transfer ICT sub-category has been closed to new applicants.
- The salary threshold in the Graduate Trainee ICT sub-category has been reduced from £24,800 to £23,000 and the number of places a sponsor can use has been increased from 5 to 20 per year.
Paris Smith has an experienced team of employment and immigration lawyers to guide businesses through the complex and ever changing Tier 2 visa system. If you need advice on employing a skilled migrant from outside the EU or any other business immigration advice, please contact me on 023 8048 2374 or email me.