Update: Changes to the Tier 2 and Tier 5 immigration regime

This article is a further update following  “Immigration – changes to Sponsor duties and MAC recommendations” posted on 24 March 2016.
On 24 March 2016, the government responded to the Migration Advisory Committee’s (MAC) review of Tier 2 policy and has announced numerous changes to Tier 2 policy going forward.
For Tier 2 (General) migrants:

  • Minimum salary threshold – increase to £25,000 in autumn 2016 and £30,000 for experienced workers, whilst maintaining the current threshold of £20,800 for new entrants.
  • Waiver of Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) – where the migrant will be relocating with a high-value business to the UK or, potentially, supporting an inward investment into the UK.

For Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer (ICT)) migrants:

  • Single route for ICT migrants – all ICT migrants must qualify under a single route with a minimum salary threshold of £41,500. The Home Office will have closed the Skills Transfer and Short Term visa categories to new applications. Graduate trainees will have their own route with a lower salary threshold of £23,000 with an increased limit of 20 places per company per year.
  • New Immigration Health Surcharge – from autumn 2016 the charge will be extended to all transferees.
  • High earners’ threshold – reduced from £155,300 to £120,000 for migrants looking to stay in the UK for a period between five and nine years.
  • Migrants paid over £73,900 – from April 2017 they will not be required to have one year’s experience.

For both Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (ICT) routes:

  • New Immigration Skills Charge – employers must pay a levy to encourage them to invest in training UK employees. The levy is set at £1,000 per year per Tier 2 migrant from April 2017. A reduced rate of £364 per person per year will apply to small and charitable Sponsors.

Several other recommendations made by the MAC on 19 January 2016 will not be implemented by the government and accordingly the government has confirmed the following:

  • ICT overseas service – migrants will not be required to have worked for their overseas company for 24 months, which would have been an increase from the current requirement of 12 months.
  • RLMT – Tier 2 (General) in-country switching applications from Tier 4 will not be subject to the RLMT.

Finally, it should be noted that the Home Office has introduced the following changes which affect Tier 2 and Tier 5 Sponsors:

  • Record-keeping duties – for new migrant employees, Sponsors must keep copies of references, DBS checks, job descriptions and qualifications.
  • RLMT – where a Sponsor advertises a vacancy on Universal Jobmatch, it must take a screenshot on the date the vacancy is first advertised.
  • Genuineness test – if the Home Office refuses an entry clearance or leave to remain application because it does not consider the job role to be genuine, it may suspend the Sponsor Licence to carry out further investigation.
Verity Buckingham

About Verity Buckingham

Verity is experienced in all aspects of employment law and corporate immigration matters. She deals mostly with corporate clients advising on contentious and non-contentious employment matters. Verity's contentious practice includes defending claims in the Employment Tribunal and experience of Employment Appeal Tribunal litigation in relation to claims of unfair dismissal, discrimination, equal pay and whistleblowing.

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