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Planned changes to UK Immigration Rules April 2017

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As a reminder, the following changes affecting business immigration take effect on 6 April 2017:

Tier 2 salary threshold increases

The second stage of minimum annual salary increases announced last year will be implemented from 6 April, raising the threshold from £25,100 to £30,000 for experienced workers.

Applicants initially granted leave to enter or remain with a certificate of sponsor assigned before 24 November 2016 will continue to be subject to the £20,800 threshold.

For those initially granted leave with a certificate of sponsorship assigned between 24 November 2016 and 6 April 2017, there will be no transitional arrangement. They will be subject to the £30,000 threshold if they apply for extensions using CoS assigned from 6 April 2017 and none of the other exemptions given in the ‘Rates of pay’ section apply.

New Immigration Skills Charge

As recommended in the MAC report last year, employers sponsoring Tier 2 migrants will have to pay the Immigration Skills Charge. This new fee will be levied by the Home Office as an upfront charge of £1,000 per licence holder per year.

Exemptions to the skills charge include:

  • Foreign nationals with PhD occupations
  • Tier 2 (ICT – Graduate Trainee) holders
  • Applicants changing from a Tier 4 (Student) to a Tier 2 (General)

Small businesses and charities will be granted a reduced Immigration Skills Charge rate of £364 per holder per year.

ICT Route closure

The Tier 2 (ICT – Short Term Staff) visa will be closed to new applications.

Tier 2 (ICT) minimum threshold lowered

The minimum salary threshold for Tier 2 (ICT) higher earners who are able to work in the UK between five and nine years will be reduced from £155,300 to £120,000. In addition, the requirement for at least one year prior experience at the overseas entity will be removed for applicants whose UK salary will be £73,900 or over.

The minimum annual salary threshold for Tier 2 (ICT) applicants to be exempt from the one year prior experience requirement will be decreased to £73,900.

Resident Labour Market Test exemption

‘High value’ businesses relocating to the UK will be exempt from the Resident Labour Market Test requirements. They will also be priotritised within Tier 2 (General) monthly quota limitations.

What does this mean for employers?

UK employers of migrant workers face increased costs per Tier 2 worker affected. Employers are advised to review their mobility requirements in light of these changes.

For employers considering the impact of the closure of the Tier 2 Short Term ICT route, we are able to advise on alternative entry options to minimise the impact on your business operations.

We are experienced advisers to employers on strategies for global mobility while ensuring compliance with immigration duties. If you have a question about the changes, or any related immigration matter, please get in touch.

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