Statement of Changes - November 2016 - UK

The UK Government has laid a Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules before Parliament. 

The main purpose is the implementation of the changes to the Tier 2 categories announced by the Home Office on 24 March 2016, in response to the Migrant Advisory Committee (MAC) report on migration to the UK. Unless otherwise stated, the changes detailed below will take affect from 24 November 2016. Some changes are solely transitional arrangements until further changes take place in April 2017. 

It is worth noting that these changes are still subject to parliamentary scrutiny and therefore, could change before implementation. 

Tier 2 General Changes 

The following recommendations from the MAC will be going ahead: 

The salary threshold for experienced workers has been increased to £25,000 for new applicants. This will rise to £30,000 in April 2017. New entrant salaries remain at £20,800.  

Overseas students from UK universities who leave the UK and apply to return under Tier 2 will have their applications weighted more favourably when the Home Office panel meets each month to review Restricted CoS requests. Graduates who apply in the UK continue to be exempt from the limit. This will take place from the December 2016 monthly panel onwards.  

Applicants sponsored in graduate training programmes will be able to apply to change occupation within/at the end of the programme without their sponsor needing to carry out a further Resident Labour Market Test. 

From April 2017, the provisions regarding the use of milkrounds for graduate recruitment will change. Sponsors may still rely on a milkround undertaken up to 4 years ago only where a particular migrant was offered the role within 6 months of that milkround taking place. 

The rules now clarify that an applicant switching from Tier 4 to Tier 2 must have studied their course at a UK recognised body or a body in receipt of public funding as a higher education institution.

Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer 

The following changes will apply to the Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) route from 24 November 2016: 

The salary for short term ICT applicants will be increased to £30,000 for new applicants. Transitional arrangements will apply for those already in the UK under the short term route. 

The Tier 2 ICT Skills Transfer route will be closed for new applicants. 

The salary threshold for the Tier 2 (ICT) Graduate Trainee visa sub-category will be reduced from £24,800 to £23,000 and the number of places a sponsor can use has been increased from 5 to 20 per year.  

Tier 5 Youth Mobility and Temporary Workers 

There have been changes to country specific allocations with a reduction in the allocation to Australia. This is balanced by a rise in New Zealand’s Tier 5 allocation.  

Certification of maintenance and accommodation of Tier 5 migrants is being brought in line with the rules under Tier 2.  

Changes to Shortage Occupations and Standard Occupation Codes 

Where a minimum level of experience is required for a Shortage Occupation, the experienced worker rate will always apply. Please note that this means that a new entrant route cannot be used to reduce the minimum salary requirement for these positions. 

Other Changes 

Response time to requests for evidence in respect of genuineness assessments for Tier 2 is being reduced from 28 calendar days to 10 working days.  

The provisions regarding grounds for automatic refusal where an individual has overstayed but submitted an extension application within 28 days of their visa expiry are to be abolished. These provisions are to be replaced with a requirement to have a good reason for the out of time application, which must be submitted within 14 days of the visa expiry.  

There are also some changes to Tier 1 and Tier 4, however, these are unlikely to impact businesses. 

Changes still planned for April 2017 

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

Salary threshold for the high earner category will be lowered from £155,300 to £120,000. 

What does this mean for you as an employer? 

These changes have been introduced following the MAC report into the sponsorship of non-EEA national employees in the UK and feed into a government overall objective of managing immigration numbers.  

Minimum salary thresholds are increasing for both Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (ICT) migrants. We expect that these increases are likely to have a limited impact given that the Standard Occupational Code minimum thresholds will generally be higher than this. The transitional arrangements for current Tier 2 migrants are to be welcomed.  

Further increases expected in April 2017 will increase minimum salaries substantially, particularly for Tier 2 (ICT) migrants, and businesses should ensure that they are planning for these increases.  

Whilst businesses are being asked to take a greater financial burden for sponsoring a migrant population in the UK, the government have introduced some flexibility regarding the employment and sponsorship of graduates.  

An organised and considered management of your company’s resourcing from overseas can ensure that these costs are woven into annual and quarterly projections early on. Our dedicated teams at PwC are well placed to work with your business to ensure that your migrant community is managed efficiently and cost effectively with our ongoing aim to ensure that our cutting edge, technical expertise is used for the benefit of your business. 

It is worth noting that the planned introduction of the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) – a £200 a year fee for each migrant applicant and dependant – that the Government announced would be extended to those to applying under the Tier 2 (ICT) category, and their dependants, has not been included in this Statement of Changes. Your PwC contact will update you on any announcement on the introduction of these fees which are still expected before the end of the year. 

Please do not hesitate to reach out to your usual PwC contact for further details on these changes.

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