UK Visas & Immigration changes Immigration Rules
Published: 17 Mar 2017
On 16 March, the Home Office presented a package of changes to the Immigration Rules mainly affecting applications using Certificates of Sponsorship assigned by sponsors on or after 6 April 2017.
Overseas criminal record certificates
UKVI are extending the requirement to provide a criminal record certificate to Tier 2 (General) applicants coming to work in the education, health and social care sectors and to their adult dependents. A criminal record certificate will be required for applicants sponsored in these Standard Occupation Classification Codes. Applicants in codes outside of the Tier 2 (General) route, such as Intra-company Transfers are not affected.
Certificates will also be required from partners applying from overseas, on or after 6 April 2017 who want to join an existing Tier 2 (General) visa holder working in one of these sectors.
Immigration Skills Charge
An Immigration Skills Charge of £1000 per skilled worker per year is being introduced for employers in Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) routes. The charge is £364 for small and charitable sponsors.
There are exemptions for PhD-level occupations, Intra-company Transfer Graduate Trainees and those switching from Tier 4 to Tier 2 in the UK. Income raised from the charge will be used to address skills gaps in the workforce. Further guidance is due to be published on 6 April.
Immigration Health Surcharge
Introduced in 2015, the surcharge 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 6 months. It is also paid by non-EEA nationals who are already in the UK and apply to extend their stay. From 6 April 2017, those applying for Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) will be required to pay a surcharge of £200 per person per year.
Other changes to Tier 2 applications
- The minimum salary that sponsors can offer a Tier 2 (General) applicant is being increased from £25,000 to £30,000 for experienced workers. Some jobs in the health and education sector are exempt until 1 July 2019.
- The Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) Short Term Staff category is being closed, meaning that all ICT workers except graduate trainees must qualify under a single route with a salary threshold of £41,500
- The high-earners' salary for the Intra-Company Transfer Long Term Staff category is being reduced from £150,300 to £120,000. These high earners can stay on the route for up to 9 years, rather than the usual 5 years
- The requirement for Intra-Company Transfer workers to have at least one year's experience working for the sponsor's linked entity overseas for applicants paid £73,900 or above is being removed
- A waiver is being introduced for the Resident Labour Market Test and the Tier 2 (General) limit for posts which support the relocation of a high value business to the UK or a significant new inward investment project is now exempted
- Changes are being made to provide greater clarity and consistency as to which types of allowance will be considered against salary requirements