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Government responds to MAC Tier 2 review

In January 2016 the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) published its review into the Tier 2 visa category. The Government has now published its response.  A number of changes are set out, and all changes are due to be implemented by April 2017, with some being implemented in autumn 2016. The Government has also said that it intends to simplify the relevant Immigration Rules and Tier 2 guidance.

The key points are:

Tier 2 (General) category

  • Immigration Skills Charge. This will be levied on employers per Certificate of Sponsorship per year. The rate is £1,000, with a reduced fee of £364 for small and charitable sponsors. PhD level occupations and those switching from a Tier 4 (General) visa to Tier 2 will be exempt;

  • Salary thresholds to be increased. The minimum salary threshold for experienced workers will be £25,000 from autumn 2016, and £30,000 from April 2017. There is no change in the minimum salary requirement for new entrants (switching from Tier 4 (General), Graduate Trainees, under the age of 26 or recruited from a university milkround). However, all applicants must be paid the minimum rate for the specific job, which may be higher than these figures;

  • Exemptions from minimum salary threshold for some public sector workers. Nurses, medical radiographers, paramedics and some secondary school teachers (in mathematics, physics, chemistry, computer science and Mandarin) will be exempt from the new salary threshold. If the jobs are not on the Shortage Occupation List, they will also be given extra weighting in the monthly allocation process. This means that if the monthly cap is met, these jobs will be given priority. These measures will apply until July 2019;

  • Nurses will remain on the Shortage Occupation List. However, employers will need to carry out a resident labour market test before recruiting a non-EEA nurse. This means nurses lose one of the key benefits of being on the SOL;

  • Exemptions for graduates to continue, and some extra exemptions to be added. Tier 4 graduates of UK universities will continue to be exempt from the resident labour market test, and exempt from the limit on Tier 2 visas. Extra weight will be given to overseas graduates within the monthly limit. Switching jobs within a company will also be made easier for graduates moving to a permanent job at the end of a training programme;

  • Extra weighting for applications from high-value businesses relocating to the UK or supporting investment to the UK. From April 2017, there will be extra weighting within the Tier 2 (General) limit where the visas are related to a high-value business relocating to the UK or potentially support an inward investment. There will not need to be a resident labour market test for these applications.

Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfers)

  • ICT Short Term category to be closed. This change will take effect from April 2017. Prior to that, the minimum salary for the category will be increased to £30,000 in autumn 2016.

  • ICT Skills Transfer category to be closed from autumn 2016.

  • Relaxing the Graduate Trainee route. The category’s minimum salary will be reduced to £23,000, and the number of visas per company will increase from five to 20.

  • Minimum salary requirement of £41,500 for all other applications. There will be “a route for senior managers and specialists” but there are no further details about this at this stage.

  • ICT migrants required to pay Immigration Health Surcharge.

  • More flexibility for high earners. Those earning more than £120,000 a year will be permitted to remain in the UK for up to nine years (down from £155,300). Those earning more than £73,900 will not be required to have worked for the employer overseas for a year. These changes will apply from April 2017.

  • Review of allowances. The extent to which allowances can be counted towards salary will be reviewed. Skills in the IT sector will also be reviewed.

For both categories, there will be no change to the work rights of Tier 2 dependants.

Contact our Business Immigration Barristers London

For expert advice in relation to any aspect of Tier 2 skilled migration, contact our business immigration barristers in London on 0203 617 9173 or via our online enquiry form.


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