Immigration rules update – December 2016

Changes to the immigration rules were announced by the Home Office on 3 November 2016. What are the main changes that may affect you or your employees?

Tier 2

The Tier 2 (Skills Transfer) category will be closed. This visa was for transfers to the UK allowing people to gain skills and knowledge needed to perform their role overseas, or to pass on their skills to UK colleagues. Unlike the Tier 2 ICT Long Term and Short Term category, applicants didn’t need to have worked for their employer overseas for a set period of time in order to be eligible.

The minimum salary threshold for several of the Tier 2 categories will be affected:

  • Tier 2 ICT (Short Term) – an increase from £24,800 to £30,000.
  • Tier 2 General – an increase from £20,800 to £25,000. This is relevant to experienced workers only, new entrants will still be required to meet the current £20,800 threshold. (Note, there is a further increase to the Tier 2 General salary threshold which goes up to £30,000 from 6 April 2017).
  • Tier 2 ICT (Graduate Trainee) – a decrease to £23,000.

In addition, the number of Graduate Trainee places allowed per company will increase from five to 20 per year.

For Tier 4 Students switching to Tier 2 General, changes are being put in place to prevent applicants relying on a qualification obtained via supplementary study. This switch will now only be possible where the applicant has studied at a UK-recognised body or body in receipt of public funding as a higher education institution.

Note, these changes came into effect as of 24 November 2016 and all Certificates of Sponsorship (COS) assigned on or after this date will need to meet these requirements.

Family migration

New English language requirements will be applicable to non EEA partners and parents looking to extend their stay after 2.5 years in the UK under Appendix FM (Family Members).

This requirement will need to be met by either passing a Home Office approved English language test, by being a national of a country the Home Office deems to be a majority English language speaking country, or by holding a degree taught or researched in English.

This change will be applicable to family members whose visas expire on or after 1 May 2017. 

Sponsor Licence requests

The Home Office has also introduced a new priority process for making certain licence related requests such as COS allocation increases, changes to company details (new address or change of Authorising officer for example) or adding level 1 users. By using the priority service, requests of this nature should be processed within five working days. The fee for this service will be £200 per request. 

Given the lengthy processing times that have been previously experienced with requests of this nature, it is hoped the new priority service will go some way to assisting clients who have requests that need to be dealt with urgently. However, there is a limit to the number of requests that can be dealt with each day.

What do I need to do?

Employers and migrant workers should be aware these changes may impact Tier 2 sponsored migrants (particularly those coming into the route afresh) and should contact Mazars to discuss any potential implications and the way forward. We would also be happy to help with any urgent change of circumstance requests through the new priority service.

Alison Hutton, Director
T: 020 7063 4682 E: Alison.hutton@mazars.co.uk

Gemma Reeve, Immigration Consultant
T: 020 7063 4540   E: gemma.reeve@mazars.co.uk

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