On 24 March 2016, the Home Office announced changes to the Tier 2 immigration category, in response to the reviews of Tier 2 policy by the independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC).
The changes that the Home Office are implementing are as follows:
For Tier 2 (General)
- The Home Office will increase the Tier 2 (General) minimum salary threshold to £25,000 in autumn 2016, and £30,000 in April 2017 for experienced workers, whilst maintaining the current threshold of £20,800 for new entrants.
- They will weight overseas graduates more heavily in the Tier 2 (General) limit and enable graduates to switch roles within a company once they have secured a permanent role at the end of their training programme.
- The Home Office will waive the Resident Labour Market Test and give extra weighting within the Tier 2 (General) limit where the allocation of places is associated with the relocation of a high-value business to the UK or, potentially, supports an inward investment.
- Nurses, medical radiographers, paramedics and teachers in mathematics, physics, chemistry, computer scienceand Mandarin,will be exempt from the new salary threshold until 2019.
- 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.
- 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.
For Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer (ICT))
- The Home Office will simplify the visa system for both applicants and sponsors by requiring all intra-company transferees (except graduate trainees) to qualify under a single route with a minimum salary threshold of £41,500.
- In Autumn 2016, the Home Office will close the Skills Transfer category to new applications and increase the minimum salary threshold for the Short Term category to £30,000. From April 2017, they will close the Short Term category to new applications.
- There will continue to be a separate ICT category for graduate trainees, with a lower salary threshold of £23,000 and an increased limit of 20 places per company per year, rather than 5 places as at present.
- The Home Office will lower the high earners' threshold from £155,300 to £120,000 for transferees looking to stay in the UK for between 5 and 9 years.
- The Home Office will remove the one year experience requirement for transferees paid over £73,900.
- The Home Office will require all transferees to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge and they will review the extent to which allowances may be counted as salary.
- We will not implement the MAC's recommendations that ICTs should be required to have worked for their company for two years, rather than 12 months, or that transferees working on third party contracts should be restricted to a separate category.
Across both Tier 2 routes
- The Immigration Skills Charge will be levied on Tier 2 employers at a rate of £1,000 per person per year from April 2017. A reduced rate of £364 per person per year will apply to small and charitable sponsors, PhD roles, Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) Graduate Trainees, and Tier 4 to Tier 2 switchers will be exempt.
- The transitional arrangements for workers sponsored at NQF levels 3 and 4 will be closed over the next two years.
- The Immigration Rules for work categories will be simplified, making them easier for sponsors and applicants to understand.
To give sponsors time to prepare, the Home Office is not making the changes immediately and is introducing them in two stages-Autumn 2016 and April 2017.
The Home Office has provided a summary of the changes and the timeline for implementation as seen below:
MAC Review of Tier 2 - Summary of changes and timeline