Changes to UK Immigration Rules Announced

The Home Secretary has laid before Parliament a number of changes to the UK Immigration Rules which are due to come into effect on 24th November 2016.  Many of these changes reflect recommendations made earlier in the year by the Migration Advisory Committee.

Tier 2 Changes

The most significant changes that will impact employers under Tier 2 sponsorship include:

* The salary threshold for experienced workers will be increased to £25,000 for the majority of new applicants (the threshold for new entrants has previously been held at £20,800).  An exemption from this increase will apply for nurses, medical radiographers, paramedics and secondary school teachers in specific disciplines.  These exemptions will end in July 2019.

* As a transitional arrangement, the £25,000 threshold will not apply to workers sponsored under Tier 2 (General) before 24th November 2016, if they apply to extend their stay in the category.  The government intends to increase the threshold to £30,000 in April 2017 and there will be no transitional arrangements for workers sponsored under Tier 2 (General) between 24th November 2016 and April 2017.

* UK graduates who have returned overseas have been 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.

* A change is being made to facilitate changes of occupation for applicants sponsored in graduate training programmes.  This enables them to change occupation within the programme or at the end of the programme, without their sponsor needing to carry out a further resident labour market test.

* From April 2017 a change to the rules around advertising via a milkround will be introduced to close a loophole in which a sponsor can offer a job to a migrant 4 years after carrying out a milkround, without the need for a further recruitment search.

* Nurses are being retained on the shortage occupation list, but a change is being made to require a resident labour market test to be carried out before a nurse is assigned a Certificate of Sponsorship.

Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer)

Further changes to the Intra-Company Transfer route are made following the MAC review of Tier 2.  These include:

* The salary for a short-term ICT applicant has been increased to £30,000 for new applicants.  A transitional arrangement applies for those already in the UK under the short-term route.

* The skills transfer subcategory is to close.

* The salary threshold for the graduate trainees subcategory 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.

Tier 5

The following changes are being made to Tier 5:

* The Immigration Rules are amended to specify new allocations of places to participating countries for 2017 in the Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) category.

* The rules are amended to provide for the operation of arrangements to manage the allocation of places under the Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) allocation for Japan, where demand is expected to exceed supply.

Changes to reform the period within which applications for further leave to remain can be made by overstayers.

Applications for further leave to remain made after expiry of a period of leave but within 28 days thereof do not automatically fall for refusal under the current immigration rules.  However the 28 day period is to be abolished.  An out-of-time application will not be refused on the basis that the applicant has overstayed where the Secretary of State considers that there is a good reason beyond the control of the applicant, provided with the application, why an in-time application could not be made, provided the application is made within 14 days of the expiry of leave.

Additionally, for those who have been present on 3C leave (leave extended by section 3C of the Immigration Act 1971); the 28 day period is to be reduced to 14 days from the expiry of any leave extended by Section 3C.