The new Statement of Changes that was released on 6 September 2013 brings about a small number of noteworthy changes to Tier 2 of the Points Based System. These changes will come into effect as of 1 October 2013.
Perhaps the most significant change for Tier 2 is the removal of the English language requirement in the Tier 2 (ICT) category. Currently, Tier 2 (ICT) Migrants extending their stay in the UK beyond three years are required to evidence English of at least level A1 on the Common European Framework of Reference. The Changes remove this requirement, as the category no longer leads to settlement.
The restriction on the percentage of shares a Tier 2 (General) migrant can hold in their Sponsor has also been removed in specified cases. As the current law stands, all Tier 2 (General) applicants are prohibited a share percentage of over 10% of their sponsoring company. The Rules as of 1 October 2013 will allow applicants who earn over £152,100 to own more than 10% of their Sponsor's shares. The rationale behind this is that the original restriction was placed as it was considered unlikely that a genuine Resident Labour Market Test could be undertaken where the applicant was a significant shareholder. As the Resident Labour Market Test is not applicable to Tier 2 (General) applicants who earn over £152,100 per annum, the share restriction has now been removed.
Provision has been made to allow Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Migrants to switch in-country to Tier 2 (General) under the post-study work provisions. The current post-study provisions allow Tier 1 (Post Study Work), Tier 4, and other specified student categories to switch into Tier 2 (General) in-country without the Resident Labour Market test needing to be undertaken. Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Migrants will now also benefit from the new entrant minimum salary rates in the Standard Occupational Classification codes.
Tier 2 Migrants wishing to apply for settlement must now ensure their sponsor holds a valid sponsor licence or has applied to renew their existing licence. The current Rules prescribe that Sponsors must certify that the migrant is still required and is being paid the appropriate rate for their occupation. The changes impose the requirement for the sponsor to have a valid licence in order to make these certifications.
The Codes of Practice have also been addressed, with the number of hours on which the minimum rates of pay are based on being updated in line with contemporary work habits. The majority of codes are now based on a 40-hour week, rather than 39.
Additionally, a genuineness test has been added to the Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) category and the temporary exemption from the requirement to advertise via Job Centre Plus for NHS positions has been extended to 6 April 2014.