Changes to Tier 2 immigration route confirmed
04 April 2016
We recently reported news of recommendations by the MAC on a number of potential changes to Tier 2 to address concerns about the rising number of migrants in that route and reliance on them to fill shortages in the UK labour market. Confirmation of the changes has now been published.
The Home Office has published its response to two reviews of Tier 2 policy, undertaken by the independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC).
Tier 2 is the main immigration route for non-EEA nationals to apply to work in the UK. The proposed changes are balanced to ensure that employers are incentivised to up-skill and train resident workers, whilst making sure they can continue to access migrant workers when needed.
The main changes include:
- Tier 2 (General) salary thresholds for experienced workers will be increased to £25,000 in autumn 2016, and £30,000 in April 2017. However, some health and education professionals will be exempt from the higher threshold until July 2019. The minimum threshold of £20,800 for new entrants will be maintained
- Tier 4 students switching to a Tier 2 visa will not be subject to a limit on numbers and their sponsor will not have to carry out a Resident Labour Market Test
- nurses will remain on the Shortage Occupation List, but sponsors will need to carry out a Resident Labour Market Test before recruiting a non-EEA nurse
- the current intra-company transfer provisions are being simplified 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
- 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
- the Immigration Rules for work categories will be simplified, making them easier for sponsors and applicants to understand and use.
The changes will come into effect in two stages, autumn 2016 and April 2017.
Further detail is available in the written ministerial statement.