Changes to the Tier 2 visa route - UK

Significant changes to the Tier 2 visa route are being implemented in Autumn 2016, with further changes expected in April 2017. The initial changes are confirmed to be taking place in late October / early November 2016. It is important to note that whilst these changes may affect your sponsored migrant workforce, there will be no change to the working rights of Tier 2 dependants. 

A summary of the proposed changes is provided below.  

Tier 2 Intra Company Transfers (ICT) 

Autumn 2016 

  • The Immigration Health Surcharge (‘IHS’) of £200 per person per year will apply to all ICT categories.
  • The Skills Transfer category will be closed to new applicants. 
  • There will be an increase in the current Short Term ICT minimum salary threshold from £24,800 to £30,000.  
  • The Graduate Trainee salary threshold will be lowered from £24,800 to £23,000. The number of trainees under the route will increase from 5 to 20 per company. 

April 2017  

  • The ICT route will move to a single category route. All ICTs (regardless of industry) will need to earn £41,500 per annum. The only exception to this is the Graduate Trainee route.  
  • The salary threshold for the high earner category will be lowered from £155,300 to £120,000.  
  • The requirement to have 12 months previous experience will be removed where the salary is £73,900 or above.  

Tier 2 (General) 

Autumn 2016 

  • The minimum salary threshold for experienced workers will be increased to £25,000 per annum. 
  • Some public sector employees will be exempt from these increases until July 2019 i.e. nurses, medical radiographers, paramedics and some secondary school teachers in mathematics, physics, chemistry, computer science and Mandarin. 
  • Overseas graduates joining graduate training schemes will be given more weighting within the Tier 2 (General) limit. 
  • Graduates will be permitted to switch roles within the same company into different SOC codes for those on established training schemes and who are being offered permanent roles at the end of the training schemes.  
  • Those eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain (‘ILR’) in 2016 will be required to meet minimum salary thresholds; candidates will need to earn a minimum salary of £35,000 if applying on or after 6th April 2016, £35,500 if applying on or after 6th April 2018 and £35,800 if applying after April 2019.

April 2017  

  • The minimum salary threshold will be increased to £30,000 for experienced workers. 

Immigration Skills Surcharge (ISS) 

  • The ISS is to be levied at a rate of £1,000 per year per worker. 
  • Reduced rate of £364 per year to apply to small companies and charity sponsors (not more than 50 employees). 
  • The ISS will need to be paid up-front at the point the Certificate of Sponsorship (‘CoS’) is issued (£1,000 per year in line with length of CoS). 
  • Exemptions from the ISS will apply to those sponsoring jobs at PhD level, the Tier 2 (ICT) Graduate trainee category and those who are switching in the UK from the Tier 4(General) category.  
  • The Government plans to fully implement all these changes by April 2017. 

Please do not hesitate to reach out to your usual PwC Legal contact for further details.


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