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UNITED KINGDOM - Important Changes to Tier 2 Codes of Practice

The UK Border Agency has announced changes to Tier 2 of the Points Based System, to take effect from 6 April 2013. The changes include updating the list of skilled occupations to reflect a new Standard Occupation Classification (SOC) system, changes to salary requirements, and changes to the way the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) is conducted.

Why are Changes Being Made?

The changes follow the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) review and report commissioned by the government last year. Minister for Immigration, Mark Harper, said that the changes are ‘intended to update the system and make it more user-friendly, rather than significantly change the policy’.

Changes to the Lists of Skilled Occupations

The skills lists and levels are being updated from the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) 2000 system to the SOC 2010 system. The new list does not make any changes to the skills threshold for Tier 2, which remains at NQF level 6. The full list is set out in Annex A of the Statement of Intent.

However, note that since the SOC codes are changing, if employers have granted any Restricted Certificates of Sponsorship (RCoS) under Tier 2 General prior to 5 April 2015, these must be assigned to an employee by 6 April 2013 as otherwise, the “job type” details will be lost when the system is updated with the new SOC codes on 6 April.

Due to these updates, the UKBA is making changes to the timings of the monthly allocation of RCoS for April and May 2013 – the new timing dates can be accessed here.

Changes to Salary Requirements

The minimum appropriate rates for skilled workers in each occupation are being simplified and updated to reflect changes in pay for settled workers. There will be separate pay thresholds for experienced staff and new entrants recruited via Tier 2.

New entrant employees are defined as:

  • graduates switching from Tier 4 into Tier 2 under post-study provisions;
  • graduate recruits where the employer has used a university “milkround” to satisfy the RLMT;
  • those sponsored in the Intra-Company Transfer Graduate Trainee route; and
  • anyone aged 25 or under on the date of their initial Tier 2 application.

Changes to Minimum Salary Thresholds

The minimum salary threshold which applies to Tier 2 (General) jobs will be increased from April 2013 in line with wage inflation from £20,000 to £20,300. Applicants’ pay must meet the relevant minimum threshold as well as the appropriate rate for each occupation.

Other changes are:

  • Tier 2 (General) (exempt from advertising in Jobcentre Plus) – from £70,000 to £71,000
  • Tier 2 (General) (exempt from the annual cap and the RLMT) – from £150,000 to £152,100
  • Tier 2 (ICT) Short-Term, Skills Transfer & Graduate Trainee – from £24,000 to £24,300
  • Tier 2 (ICT) Long-Term – From £40,000 to £40,600

The minimum threshold of earnings under Tier 2 (General) required to support a Settlement application will be £35,000 for applications made on or after 6 April 2016, and will rise to £35,500 for Settlement applications made on or after 6 April 2018.

Changes to Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT)

Employers are to be given more freedom to advertise vacancies in the media most likely to be successful for their sector. Most vacancies will still be required to be advertised via a Jobcentre Plus online service, unless they are in shortage occupations or the salary is over £71,000.

The new criteria will allow the RLMT to be carried out by advertising in any of the following media in addition to a Jobcentre Plus online service or JobCentre Online:

  • Newspaper published at least once a week and marketed throughout the UK
  • Professional/relevant trade journal available via retail outlets/subscription. The journal must be published at least once a month and be related to the nature of the job.
  • Website:
    • an online version of a newspaper/professional journal (as above); or
    • the website of a prominent professional or recruitment organisation, which does not charge jobseekers a fee to view, or apply for, job advertisements; or
    • the Sponsor’s own website, providing it is a multinational or has over 250 UK permanent employees.

Transitional Arrangements

The new Codes of Practice, salary thresholds and advertising criteria will apply to all applications relying on Certificates of Sponsorship assigned by Sponsors on or after 6 April 2013.

There are a number of transitional arrangements applying to Sponsors who have been allocated Restricted Certificates of Sponsorship – these can be read in the Statement of Intent.

Although the Statement of Intent represents the government’s current intentions, it should not be seen as a definitive account of the Codes of Practice that will apply from 6 April 2013. The definitive version will be set out in the Immigration Rules and in the final Codes of Practice which will be published separately in due course.

Action Items

  • Note the new allocation dates for RCoS for April and May 2013
  • Note that there will be new pay thresholds for Tier 2 occupations, to be subdivided into thresholds for “experienced staff” and “new entrants”
  • Note new, higher minimum salary requirements for Tier 2 from 6 April 2013
  • Note new flexibility with the RLMT from 6 April 2013

The information in this alert was provided by Dearson Winyard International

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.