changes to the
UK Immigration Rules
6 March 2015
The Home Office has recently released a Statement of Changes outlining the changes being made to the UK immigration Rules, many of which will come into effect as of 6 April 2015.
Many of these changes will directly affect employers of skilled foreign workers and, as such, it is important to adjust your immigration and employment strategy accordingly.
Changes to Tier 2
Minimum Salary Thresholds
Annual updates have been made to the minimum salary thresholds and appropriate salary rates for individual occupations. These updates will be applicable to all Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) assigned on or after 6 April 2015 and changes to thresholds are in line with changes to the average weekly earnings of resident workers which have risen by 1.2% in the 12 months prior to November 2014.
Tier 2 (General) employees will be subject to the following salary updates:
- The minimum salary threshold is being updated from the current £20,500 to £20,800
- For those whose jobs are exempt from advertising in Jobcentre Plus, the current minimum salary threshold of £71,600 will be updated to £72,500
- For high earners, the minimum salary threshold of £153,500 is being updated to £155,300
Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) employees will be subject to the following minimum salary threshold updates:
- For those whose jobs qualify for the Short Term Staff, Skills Transfer or Graduate Trainee categories, the minimum salary threshold of £24,500 will be updated to £24,800
- For those whose jobs qualify for the Long-Term Staff category, the minimum salary threshold of £41,000 is increasing to £41,500
These updates will be applicable to all CoS assigned on or after 6 April 2015 and will not be applied retrospectively.
Migrant workers who fall into the Tier 2 (General) or Tier 2 (Sportsperson) categories and are applying for settlement on or after 6 April 2020 must receive a minimum annual salary of £36,200 at the time of application.
The 12 month “cooling-off period”, which prevents applicants being granted a Tier 2 visa if they have been in the UK as a Tier 2 visa holder within the previous 12 months, will be changed in order to accommodate flexible business. According to the changes, the cooling-off period will no longer apply to grants of Tier 2 leave of three months or less and, as such, businesses with an immediate need to engage a foreign employee will be able to do so. Providing that the worker came from within that same business, the employee could be brought to and employed in the UK under a Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) visa for a maximum of three months almost immediately, during which time the lengthy process of procuring a Tier 2 (General) visa could be administered.
Shortage Occupations List
Following a partial review made by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), the government intends to add a small number of positions in the digital technology sector to the Shortage Occupations List, including product manager, data scientist, senior developer and cyber security analyst. It has also proposed that paramedics be added to the list for the first time since its inception, as no short-term solutions to ease the pressure on the existing workforce across the UK could be identified.
Changes to Tier 1
Applicants of the Tier 1 (Investor) visa category will now be required to open a Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)-regulated bank account before making their initial application.
As of 6 April this year, a ‘genuine entrepreneur’ test will be applied to Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) extension and Indefinite Leave to Remain applications.
Tier 1 Investor visa holders will be able to maintain their investment by reinvesting the gross proceeds from the sale of any part of their investment portfolio, rather than having to reinvest the original purchase price of that investment. This reinvestment must be made before the end of the next reporting period or within six months of the sale, whichever is sooner.
Changes to English language tests
The list of approved English language tests has been updated, removing many previously accepted tests and including a few new test providers.
The following test providers are no longer listed: the Pearson Test; Cambridge tests such as Key English Test, Preliminary English Test, First Certificate in English, Certificate of Proficiency in English, Business English Certificate Preliminary, and Business English Certificate Vantage; ESOL tests and IESOL tests.
The new test providers are Trinity College London (UK only) and IELTS SELT Consortia (UK and rest of world).
A transitional period of seven months has been introduced to help those who have taken their test ahead of these changes as part of their upcoming application. Providing that the test was passed before 6 April 2015, the test results may be used in immigration applications up until 6 November 2015.
Please click here for the new list of English language tests and providers