In March 2016, the Government announced that it would be implementing a number of changes relating to Tier 2 in October 2016 and April 2017. We covered these in our September 2016 and November 2016 updates.
On 16 March 2017, the formal mechanism for the April 2017 changes, Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules (HC 1078), was laid before Parliament. We set out below a summary of the main changes that Tier 2 sponsors may wish to prioritise.
Immigration Skills Charge
The Immigration Skills Charge (ISC) will be payable in relation to CoS that are assigned under Tier 2 (General) or Tier 2 (ICT) on or after 6 April 2017, other than those for:
- PhD level occupations
- Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) Graduate Trainees
- Those switching from inside the UK into Tier 2 (General) from Tier 4
- Those who were sponsored in Tier 2 before 6 April 2017 and are applying from inside the UK to extend their stay with either the same or a different sponsor.
ISC is not payable in relation to dependants.
The cost, which is payable in full at the same time the CoS is assigned, will be £1,000 per skilled worker per year, reduced to £364 for those sponsors that are classed as small or charitable sponsors (including universities). Businesses that meet the audit exemption for private limited companies, as defined by the Companies Act, are defined as small sponsors.
By way of an example, an investment bank will pay an ISC of £3,000 for a worker coming to the UK for 3 years, whereas a charity, a university or a small business will pay £1,092.
Immigration Health Surcharge
As from 6 April 2017, the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) of £200 per person per year will be further rolled out to include those applying under Tier 2 (ICT) and their dependants.
Overseas criminal record certificates
As from 6 April 2017, those applying under Tier 2 (General) who are coming to work in the education, health and social care sectors, must, along with their adult dependants, provide a criminal record certificate.
Further information about the roles this new requirement applies to can be found on page 3 of the current Tier 2 Sponsor Guidance.
Changes to Tier 2 (General)
The following key changes come into force on 6 April 2017 in relation to Tier 2 (General):
- The minimum salary increases to £30,000 for experienced workers, remaining at £20,800 for new entrants.
- The “high earner” threshold, triggering an exemption from the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT), will increase from £155,300 to £159,600 per annum.
- Changes are being made to support roles associated with the relocation of a high value business to the UK or a significant new inward investment project. The sponsor must be a newly-registered (within the last 3 years) branch or subsidiary of an overseas business and the investment must involve new capital expenditure of £27 million or the creation of at least 21 new UK jobs. Sponsors in such cases will be exempt from carrying out a RLMT and from the requirement to assign a restricted CoS under the Tier 2 (General) annual limit.
- Secondary school teachers in maths and physics are being retained on the Shortage Occupation List. Secondary school teachers in combined science and Mandarin are being added to the list. Secondary school chemistry teachers are being removed from the list.
- Minor technical changes are being made to the Resident Labour Market Test, 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.
Changes to Tier 2 (ICT)
The following key changes come into force on 6 April 2017 in relation to Tier 2 (ICT):
- The Tier 2 (ICT) Short-term staff route will close. All ICT applicants must qualify under a single route with a minimum salary threshold of £41,500 per annum, other than in relation to graduate trainees.
- The salary threshold for high earners able to extend their stay to up to 9 years under the Long-term staff route will be reduced from £155,300 to £120,000 per annum.
- Intra-company Transferees who will be paid at least £73,900 per annum will no longer be required to have worked for the overseas entity for at least 12 months.
Definition of a working week in relation to Tier 4 student workers
All organisations that employ students who have leave under Tier 4 should note that as from 6 April 2017, the definition of a “week” means a period of 7 days beginning with a Monday.
Employers must ensure that any students they employ who are permitted to work for 10 or 20 hours a week during term-time do not work more than their permitted hours each week, commencing on the Monday.
Compliance tips for sponsors
In our November 2016 update we set out a number of compliance tips for sponsors.
Tier 2 sponsors receiving a visit can still expect the areas we highlighted to be reviewed in detail by immigration officers.
In addition, it is likely that the visiting officer will also check that the pay their sponsored migrants are receiving is the same as specified on the CoS issued to them or, where the pay is different, any changes are in accordance with the rules and have been reported to UKVI.
We therefore recommend that sponsors include checks on pay in their immigration compliance plan.
If you need legal advice and assistance, please contact us.