The Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules was published on 16 March 2017 by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and will come into force on 6 April 2017. The main changes to Tier 2 are summarised below:
Tier 2 (General)
- The minimum salary requirement for experienced Tier 2 (General) workers will increase to £30,000.
- The minimum salary threshold for individuals coming to the UK as “high-earners” will increase from £155,300 to £159,600. This revised salary figure was not previously published in any of the consultations or announcements.
- Minor technical changes are being made to the Resident Labour Market Test (“RLMT”), including widening the websites which may be used for graduate recruitment from a specified list of four to any freely-available, prominent graduate recruitment website.
- There will be an annual review of the occupational salary rates in the Codes of Practice.
- There will be a waiver for the RLMT 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. The qualifying criteria for this is the sponsor must have registered with companies house no more than three years ago and have its headquarters and principal place of business outside the UK. The project will require inward investment of new capital expenditure of £27 million or the creation of at least 21 new UK jobs.
Tier 2 Intra Company Transfer (ICT) Short-Term
- The Tier 2 ICT Short-Term category will close. This means that all ICT workers, except graduate trainees, must qualify under a single route with a salary threshold of £41,500.
- Transitional arrangements – it appears from the Statement of Changes that as long as a Certificate of Sponsorship (“CoS”) is assigned before 6 April 2017 in this category, an entry clearance application may be submitted after 6 April 2017.
Tier 2 Intra Company Transfer (ICT) Long-Term
- The minimum salary threshold for “high-earners” will be reduced from £155,300 to £120,000. If a Tier 2 ICT Long-Term migrant is earning this amount, they will be permitted to extend their stay up to a maximum of nine years.
- The requirement for ICT migrants to have at least one year’s experience working for the company overseas will be removed if the applicant has an annual salary of £73,900 or more.
Immigration Skills Charge (“ISC”)
- An additional Skills Charge will be payable for all Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) assigned on or after 6 April 2017 for main applicants applying under the Tier 2 (General) and ICT Long Term categories. Tier 4 switching to Tier 2 (General), PhD Level occupations and ICT Graduate Trainees will be exempt.
- The amount payable will be £1,000 for each year the CoS is issued for, i.e. an individual applying for a 3 year visa will be required to pay £3,000. The CoS will be considered invalid if any charge which applies is not paid in full.
- Companies who have less than 50 employees or their turnover is less than £6.5 Million and their Balance sheet total is no more than £3.26 Million or are charitable organisations will pay a lower Skills Charge of £364.
- The ISC will not apply to a sponsor of a non-EEA national who was sponsored in Tier 2 before 6 April 2017.
- The ISC will not apply to dependants.
Immigration Health Surcharge (“IHS”)
- The IHS will be introduced for ICT migrants from 6 April 2017 to bring them in line with Tier 2 (General) applications.
- This means that all applicants (including dependants) will be required to pay the IHS fee when making an entry clearance or leave to remain application of £200 per year.
Criminal Record Certificates
- The requirement to provide an overseas criminal record certificate will be extended to Tier 2 (General) migrants who intend to work in education, health and social care sectors. The requirement also applies to adult dependents.
- This requirement was introduced for Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) and Tier 1 (Investor) migrants on 1 September 2015.
Residence requirement for PBS dependants
- The requirement for PBS dependants to meet the residence requirement for Indefinite Leave to Remain and to spend no more than 180 days per year outside the UK has been removed.
Changes Relating to Overstayers
- The period of overstaying which is allowed before a re-entry ban of 12 months is imposed on individuals who remain in the UK after their leave to enter or remain has expired is reduced to 30 days. This was previously set at 90 days.