Home Office response to the Migration Advisory Committee’s review of Tier 2

James Brokenshire, the Minister of State for Immigration has today announced reforms to the Tier 2 (Skilled Workers) route, following the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC)’s review of Tier 2 on 19 January 2016.

Some of the key changes are as follows:

Tier 2 (General)

  • Tier 2 (General) salary thresholds for experienced workers will be increased in two phases; to £25,000 in autumn 2016 and £30,000 in April 2017. The minimum threshold of £20,800 for new entrants will be maintained.
  • In recognition of the ongoing public pay restraint and recruitment challenges in these occupations, some health and education professionals will be exempt from the higher threshold until July 2019.
  • Nurses will remain on the Shortage Occupation List, but sponsors will need to carry out a Resident Labour Market Test before recruiting a nurse from outside of the European Economic Area (EEA).
  • Tier 4 students switching to a Tier 2 visa will not be subject to a limit on numbers and their sponsors will not have to carry out a Resident Labour Market Test.
  • The Home Office will weight overseas graduates more heavily in the Tier 2 (General) limit and enable graduates to switch roles within a company once they have secured a permanent role at the end of their training programme.
  • The Home Office will also waive the Resident Labour Market Test and give extra weighting within the Tier 2 (General) limit where the allocation of places is associated with the relocation of a high-value business to the UK or, potentially, supports an inward investment.

Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer)

  • The current Tier 2 intra-company transfer provisions are being streamlined by requiring all intra-company transferees to qualify under a single visa category with a minimum salary threshold of £41,500, with the exception of the graduate trainees.
  • There will be a transitional period until April 2017 to allow those affected to plan for the changes. In autumn 2016, the Home Office will close the Skills Transfer category to new applications and increase the minimum salary threshold for the Short Term category to £30,000. From April 2017, they will be closing the Short Term category to new applications.
  • From April 2017 also, the Home Office will lower the minimum salary threshold for intra-company transferees working in the UK for between five and nine years from £155,300 to £120,000. They will also remove the one year experience requirement for all applications where the worker is paid more than £73,900.
  • From autumn 2016, all intra-company transferees will be required to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge.
  • Magrath are pleased to note that a number of the MAC proposals on the creation of a new third party contracting route and a recommendation on increasing the length of prior employment required overseas have not been adopted.

Immigration Skills Charge

  • The Immigration Skills Charge will be levied on Tier 2 employers at a rate of £1,000 per person per year from April 2017, with a rate of £364 for smaller businesses and charities, and an exemption for PhD occupations, Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) Graduate Trainees, and Tier 4 students switching to Tier 2.

Dependants

  • Magrath are pleased that dependants of Tier 2 migrants will continue to retain the right to work in the UK.

Simplification of the Immigration Rules for the work categories

  • The Minister has also announced that the Immigration Rules for work categories will be simplified, making them easier for sponsors and applicants to understand and use. We shall report on how the Rules will be simplified  as and when they are announced.

The Minister of State for Immigration’s full report is available at:

http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2016-03-24/HCWS660/

Should you have any questions regarding this, or in respect of any other immigration law issue, please contact your representative at Magrath LLP Solicitors or write to us at [email protected].