UK Immigration & Nationality Lawyers

Changes for Tier 2 migrants

Recommendations of the Migration Advisory Committee in January 2020

In January 2020 the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) published a report addressing the future of the points-based immigration system and the prescribed salary levels for sponsored workers.

MAC mainly looked at the future of the Tier 2 General category as the employer-sponsored route and the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent category, as the route for skilled workers without a job offer.

The recommendations include:

  • Retaining the existing framework for the Tier 2 General category with some modifications;
  • Lowering the salary threshold to accommodate medium-skilled jobs;
  • Abolition of the cap on Tier 2 sponsored migration;
  • Abolition of the resident labour market test;
  • A pause in the planned increase in the income threshold for indefinite leave to remain and more flexible requirements for settlement;
  • Setting the New Entrant rate at 70% of the experienced worker rate;
  • Giving a wider definition of a New Entrant and making it applicable for five years instead of the current three.

The general salary threshold is recommended to be reduced to £25,600, compared to the current £30,000. The same threshold would apply for jobs on the shortage occupation list.

The new points-based system and when we expect it

The new Immigration Bill setting out the new vision of the UK immigration system is expected in April 2020. According to MAC report, it is likely to evolve from the existing system. The earliest it is expected to be implemented is January 2021.

The current minimum salary threshold for the Tier 2 General category

The minimum salary threshold for Tier 2 General migrants has been set at £30,000 per year since April 2017. This applies alongside with the occupation-specific threshold, whichever is the higher.

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. 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.

The minimum salary level for new entrants remains £20,800.

The current definition of New Entrant 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 salary thresholds due to restraint in the budget of the public sector. The minimum threshold for these professions remains £20,800. 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.

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.

Minimum salary for ILR for Tier 2 General migrants

From 6 April 2019, the minimum salary requirement for indefinite leave to remain for Tier 2 General migrants is £35,800 a year. From 6 April 2020, it will be £36,200; and from 6 April 2021 it is expected to rise to £36,900.

The above requirements do not apply to Tier 2 General migrants sponsored for a PhD level or a shortage occupation job. Also, it does not apply to Tier 2 Minister of Religion category.

Where the applicant is paid hourly, credit is given to a maximum of 48 hours per week.

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