The government’s respond is fast approaching on the Migration Advisory Committee’s (MAC) announcement on the Tier 2 visa route for non-EU skilled workers. As the main route for economic migration to the UK, Tier 2 is divided into four streams: general, intra-company transfer (ICT), religious ministers and sportspeople. It is the first two that will be affected by the recommendations, which if implemented, and it is broadly felt that they will be, will take effect from 6 April this year. They include increasing minimum salary thresholds, introducing an Immigration Skills Charge (with a suggested rate of £1,000 per year per employee), and a restructuring of the ICT route as well as expanding the existing health surcharge to include ICT employees.
Minimum salary thresholds will increase from £20,800 to £30,000 for experienced workers and to £23,000 for graduates. Implementation of the threshold for public sector workers will be phased.
The big shock is proposals for the ICT route, where third-party contracting,heavily used by the IT sector, will assume its own category, with its minimum salary threshold bumped up from £24,800 to £41,500, in line with the main ICT route. Additionally, required prior experience with the employer will increase from 12 to 24 months, with employers having to submit, along with their applications, detailed descriptions of specific skills they will gain from bringing the individual to the UK.
We think the Home Office will be looking much more closely at compliance in future. HR will have to really understand its responsibilities and liabilities particularly where it is responsible for right to work checks.