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09th May 2016

Government confirms changes to be made to business immigration

Earlier this year we reported on the recent changes that had taken place in the world of business immigration and the key issues to look out for in 2016.

At this time we were still awaiting the report from the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) following its review of business immigration which was set to make a number of recommendations to the Government in respect of how this area should be improved. MAC’s report and recommendations have, however, now been released and the Government has confirmed the changes that it intends to put in place following these recommendations.

Autumn 2016 Changes

  • The minimum salary threshold for Tier 2 (General) visas will increase to £25,000 for experienced workers, although the minimum threshold for new entrants will remain at £20,800.
  • The minimum salary threshold for the Tier 2 (ICT) Short Term category will increase to £30,000.
  • The salary requirement for the Tier 2 (Graduate Trainee) category will be reduced from £24,800 to £23,000 and there will be also an increase in the number of individuals that companies can place in these roles.
  • The Tier 2 (ICT) Skills Transfer category will be closed to new applicants.
  • Nurses will remain on the shortage occupation list but employers will need to carry out a resident labour market test before recruiting a non-EEA nurse.

 

April 2017 Changes

  • There will be a further increase in the Tier 2 (General) salary threshold for experienced workers in April 2017, and this will increase to £30,000.
  • The Tier 2 (ICT) Short Term category will be closed to new applicants. Going forward all Tier 2 (ICTs), except for graduates, will need to qualify under a single route for ICTs. This route will have a minimum salary threshold of £41,500.
  • The Government has also confirmed that it shall be introducing an Immigration Skills Charge (ISC) for Tier 2 sponsors. The ISC will mean that Tier 2 Sponsors shall be required to pay an annual charge of £1,000 per migrant worker employed under Tier 2, subject to a few very limited exceptions. A lower charge of £364 will however apply for small businesses and those in the charitable sector.
  • The high-earners’ salary threshold for Long-Term Tier 2 (ICTs) will be reduced from £155,300 to £120,000.
  • The requirement for an individual to have at least one year’s service with an employer to qualify for a visa under the Long-Term Tier 2 (ICT) category will be removed where the applicant earns over £73,900 per annum.
  • There will also be a review of the allowances that can be taken into account when determining whether roles under the Tier 2 (ICT) categories meet the minimum salary threshold. This may result in some changes to the type and amount of the allowances that can be taken into account in meeting the minimum salary.

There were a number of MAC’s recommendations that the Government decided not to take forward. However, the confirmed changes will still mean that employing migrant workers will become even more difficult and certainly more expensive for employers. Whilst many employers are finding that skills shortages in the UK are such that they are having to look outside the UK to find the skills they need, employers do need to keep in mind that this route is likely to become increasingly difficult to navigate whilst the Government remains committed to reducing migration to the UK.

For more information please visit our Employment Services Page or click here to email Gemma Hill.

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