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UNITED KINGDOM – Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules - April 2017

The Home Office has published a new statement of changes to the Immigration Rules, due to take effect 6 April 2017.

The changes will see the second implementation of two phases of changes announced by the government following the 2015 review by the Migration Advisory Committee.

As previously advised, the Immigration Skills Charge of £1000 per Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) per year will be levied on Tier 2 employers (with some exemptions). Smaller businesses and charities will be charged £364 per year. A CoS will be considered invalid if any charge which applies is not paid in full.

In both the General and Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) sub-categories of the Tier 2 route, salary rates in the codes of practice for skilled workers will be updated annually using the latest available salary data for each occupation.

Changes to Tier 2 (General)

  • An increase to the salary threshold for experienced workers, which will be raised to £30,000 for the majority of new applicants. The minimum salary for new entrants remains at £20,800.
  • In changes to the Shortage Occupation List, secondary school teachers of chemistry will be removed, and secondary school teachers of combined science, computer science and Mandarin will be added.
  • Migrants intending to work in the sectors of education, health and social care, and their adult dependents, must provide a criminal record certificate from each country in which they have been resident for 12 months or more in the past 10 years (while aged 18 years and over).
  • The high earner threshold for exemption from the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) will increase to £159,600 (or £155,300 if the recruitment took place before 6 April 2017). If an application for entry clearance or leave to remain has been made using a CoS assigned before 6 April 2017, the application will be decided in accordance with the rules in force on 5 April 2017.
  • Additional points will be awarded to nurses, medical radiographers, paramedics and secondary school teachers of maths, physics, chemistry, computer science and Mandarin where they are not on the Shortage Occupation List.

Changes to Tier 2 (ICT)

  • Closure of the Short-Term Staff sub-category. The closure of this route means that accommodation allowances can form a maximum of 30%, rather than 40%, of the total salary package for all ICT workers (except Graduate Trainees).
  • Migrants applying under Tier 2 (ICT) will be required to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) of £200 per person per year. The IHS is paid by non-EEA nationals who apply to come to the UK to work, study or join family for a period of more than six months. It is also paid by non-EEA nationals who are already in the UK and apply to extend their stay. The IHS is also payable by dependents.
  • The salary threshold for senior transferees able to extend their stay for up to nine years will be reduced from £155,300 to £120,000.
  • The requirement for intra-company transferees to have at least one year’s experience in the sponsor’s entity overseas will be removed for applicants paid £73,900 and above.

There are also minor technical changes to the routes of Tier 1, Tier 4 and Tier 5.

Action Items

  • Employers should initiate all Tier 2 applications as soon as possible to avoid incurring the £1000 per year Immigration Skills Charge and the new minimum salary of £30,000 for experienced workers.

The information in this alert was provided by Dearson Winyard and Newland Chase.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this immigration alert has been abridged from laws, court decisions, and administrative rulings and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice. If you have specific questions regarding the applicability of this information, please contact Peregrine © 2017 Peregrine Immigration Management Ltd.