The Tier 2 minimum salary requirement can be one of the more complicated aspects for employers when hiring skilled visa workers.
Varying thresholds apply for different classes of employee and job roles, and the government frequently makes changes to the rules. Sponsor licence holders have to keep pace and ensure continued compliance, or risk Home Office enforcement action.
It is for each sponsor licence holder to check the salary status of the role in question or risk refusal of the application or compliance issues with the Home Office.
One area of particular risk to consider when determining the salary level will be working hours and patterns. The prescribed salary levels are generally based on a 39-hour working week. As such, employers will need to take care when calculating the annual salary in respect of part-time or shift workers and avoid non-compliant practices such as including overtime pay. Contracted weekly hours or hourly rate pay must be pro-rated for the hours you are sponsoring the migrant to work.
What is the Tier 2 minimum salary threshold?
In general terms, every PBS worker must be paid the relevant minimum salary amount or more in order for a certificate of sponsorship (CoS) to be issued and for the individual to be eligible for a Tier 2 visa.
The salary level is to be the greater of either the level set by the relevant SOC code for their particular role or the overall minimum salary applicable to their circumstances.
This requires the employer to ensure they have first selected the correct and appropriate SOC code to match the role being recruited for.
The Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code is used to assess the correct skill level and appropriate salary level for specific job roles. Employers are required to select the SOC code that most closely matches the job description they are looking to sponsor a migrant worker for.
With the relevant SoC code selected, the employer can then assign the relevant CoS. Failure to meet the appropriate salary level will mean the sponsor is not permitted to issue the CoS.
Lower salary threshold for new entrants
Workers who fall under the ‘new entrant’ category are subject to a lower Tier 2 minimum salary level.
To be classed as a new entrant, the worker must:
- be switching from Tier 4 (General) from within the UK, ie after finishing their course; or
- be applying for leave under the Tier 2 (ICT) Graduate Trainee sub-category; or
- be under the age of 26 on the date that they make their application.
An application can only be made if it brings their total time in the UK, including the Tier 2 status, to be no longer than 3 years and one month. They also cannot be applying for ILR.
Workers who do not meet these requirements will come under the experienced worker category.
Tier 2 General visa holders
Two levels of threshold apply under the General route. £20,800 applies to new entrants or stipulated exemptions. All other roles must pay at least £30,000 per annum unless a higher rate is specified under the relevant SOC code, in which case the higher rate prevails.
ICT visa holders
Intracompany transfers of Tier 2 workers require a higher minimum salary than under the General route.
A minimum salary of £41,500 must be paid unless a higher rate for experienced workers is set under the relevant SOC code.
Tier 2 (ICT) Graduate Trainees must be paid the greater of either £23,000 per annum minimum or the new entrant rate for the relevant SOC code.
Applying for ILR from Tier 2
New guidelines have been issued in respect of Tier 2 visa holders applying to settle in the UK through Indefinite Leave to Remain.
For Tier 2 workers who have held leave under the Tier 2 (General) category for five years can apply for settlement where they meet the ILR requirements, which includes a minimum salary level. Individuals with a role on the Shortage Occupation List or skilled to PhD level are exempt from the ILR minimum salary requirement.
The thresholds have been set to increase as follows:
- ILR applications made on or after 6 April 2020: £36,200
- ILR applications made on or after 6 April 2021: £36,900
- ILR applications made on or after 6 April 2022: £37,900
- ILR applications made on or after 6 April 2023: £38,800
- ILR applications made on or after 6 April 2024: £40,100
New points-based immigration system – lower minimum salary
Under the Government’s plans for UK immigration system reform, all skilled visa worker applicants – including EU and non-EU citizens – will be required to earn the relevant minimum salary threshold or more, among other visa requirements.
The minimum salary requirement applicable from 1 January 2021 under the rules is being lowered to £25,600. Skilled visa workers have to be paid the higher of the specific salary threshold for their occupation, known as the ‘going rate’, and the general salary threshold.
However, if the applicant is to earn less than the required minimum salary threshold, but no less than £20,480, they may still be eligible for the skilled worker visa if they can demonstrate that they have a job offer for a role on the shortage occupation list, or that they have a PhD relevant to the job.
This makes the minimum salary requirement ‘tradeable’ against other requirements such as the specific job offer and qualifications.
Do you have a question about the Tier 2 visa minimum salary?
DavidsonMorris are specialist UK immigration solicitors, working with UK employers to advise on all aspects of the Tier 2 visa sponsorship licence including minimum salary thresholds.
For advice about your Tier 2 visa sponsor licence or hiring Tier 2 workers, contact us.