Minimum salary increase for Tier 2 General Migrants
From 6 April 2017 minimum salary threshold for Tier 2 General migrants has been increased to £30,000 per year.
The threshold of £20,800 will continue to apply for applicants for extension of stay who were initially granted leave to enter or remain with a CoS (certificate of sponsorship) assigned before 24 November 2016 (when the previous set of changes was introduced). They would have to be paid in accordance with the appropriate rate for their job as stated in the codes of practice in Appendix J of the Immigration Rules.
Minimum salary level for new entrants remains £20,800. This applies if the migrant is under the age of 26 on the date of their application for a Tier 2 visa and their CoS is for not more than three years. New entrant rules also apply if the employment offer was made in a milkround, or if the migrant is switching into Tier 2 route from Tier 1 PSW, Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur, or Tier 4 visa, having completed a degree course in a recognised educational establishment or have finished a minimum of 12 months study in the UK towards a PhD. In all cases, certificates of sponsorship have to be assigned for not more than three years to take advantage of the new entrant threshold.
Nurses, medical radiographers, paramedics and secondary school teachers in specified subjects continue to be exempt from the new salary thresholds due to restraint in the budget of the public sector. Minimum threshold for these professions remains £20,800 up until July 2019. Extra weight is to be awarded to these professions in the assessment of points in the applications for restricted certificates of sponsorship so as to enhance their chances of approval.
Resident labour market test for nurses
It has been confirmed that nurses will remain on the shortage occupation list. However, employers will have to carry out a resident labour market test before hiring a migrant nurse.
Immigration Skills Charge for Tier 2 sponsors
An Immigration Skills Charge has been introduced in April 2017. Tier 2 sponsors have to pay £1000 per year per certificate of sponsorship. A reduced amount of £364 applies to small businesses and charities. PhD level occupations, ICT graduate trainees and those switching in country from a Tier 4 visa to Tier 2 are exempt.
Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer category
From November 2016 Tier 2 ICT Skills Transfer category has been closed for new entrants. This category was previously used to transfer employees from overseas locations to acquire new skills necessary for their roles. Employees transferred to the UK for training now have to meet general requirements under Short Term ICT category with applicable minimum salary of £30,000. There is also a requirement that the role cannot be filled by a new UK recruit.
The Short Term category (for transfer of employees for up to 12 months to the UK location) has been closed to new entrants from April 2017.
There remains the Graduate Trainee category with the salary threshold reduced from £24,800 to £23,000. The employer is now allowed to bring up to 20 trainees to the UK.
From November 2016 all ICT migrants are required to pay the Immigration Heath Surcharge (£200 per year).
Minimum salary for ILR for Tier 2 General migrants
At present, the minimum salary requirement for indefinite leave to remain for Tier 2 General migrants is £35,000 a year.
From 6 April 2018, the minimum requirement will be £35,500.
From 6 April 2019 – £35,800;
From 6 April 2020 – £36,200;
From 6 April 2021 – £36,900.
The above requirements do not apply where the migrant was sponsored for a PhD level or a shortage occupation job.
Where the applicant is paid hourly, credit is given to the maximum of 48 hours per week.
Tier 2 Minister of Religion migrants are exempt from the above salary thresholds for indefinite leave to remain.
Criminal record certificate requirements coming into force in April 2017
From April 2017, the requirement to provide criminal record certificates has been extended to Tier 2 migrants in healthcare, education and social welfare professions applying for entry clearance to the UK. The requirement applies to 26 SOC codes nominated by the Home Office. It is expected that this requirement will be rolled out in stages and will apply to other professions in the future.
Applicants for entry clearance sponsored with designated SOC codes are required to provide criminal record certificates for any country (excluding the UK) where they have lived continuously or cumulatively for 12 months or more, in the 10 years prior to the application. The UKVI provides country specific information on procedures to be followed.
According to the Home Office Guidance document, applicants unable to obtain a certificate have to provide a letter which explains what they have done to try and obtain it and confirms why it has not been possible. This letter should be submitted with the other supporting documents when the application is made. The explanation will then be considered ‘against the situation in the relevant country’ and a decision will be made whether to waive the requirement. If UKVI ‘concludes that it is possible to obtain a certificate but the applicant has failed to do so, the application is likely to be refused’. In the absence of criminal record certificates, it will be the employer’s duty to obtain the necessary references and make detailed enquiries.