Home Office will be making changes to the Tier 2 visa system in line with the Migration Advisory Committee’s (MAC’s) recommendations. It confirmed:
From Autumn 2016 (date TBC)
- The cap on Tier 2 visas will remain at 20,700 a year.
- An increase to the Tier 2 salary threshold to £25,000 for experienced workers. The threshold of £20,800 will remain for ‘new entrants’.
- Nurses, medical radiographers, paramedics and teachers in maths, chemistry, computer science and Mandarin will be exempt from the new salary threshold until 2019.
- Nurses will remain on the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) but sponsors will have to carry out a Resident Labour Market Test (see the update titled ‘Shortage Occupation List- nurses’ below).
From April 2017 (date TBC)
- An increase to the Tier 2 salary threshold to £30,000 for experienced workers.
- The Immigration Skills Charge will be charged to employers sponsoring Tier 2 workers at a rate of £1,000 per Tier 2 worker per year. A reduced rate of £364 per Tier 2 worker per year will apply to small businesses and charities. The meaning of ‘small businesses’ will be defined by the Companies Act 2006 (the company will have to meet two of the following conditions: no more than 50 employees, a turnover of less than £6.5m or a balance sheet total of less than £3.26m).
The Minister confirmed that intra-company transfers will be subject to a raise in salary thresholds and all intra-company transferees will be required to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge from Autumn 2016. He also gave indications that “extra weighting” will be applied by the Home Office in relation to certain occupations and in certain situations during the monthly visa allocation process. Further details are in the full statement , although it is unclear what “extra weighting” will mean under our current Points Based System.
Shortage Occupation List- nurses
In late 2015, the Home Secretary Theresa May temporarily placed nurses on the SOL in order to cope with expected demand for NHS services over winter. The MAC was commissioned to conduct a review into this. The MAC has now responded and recommended that nurses remain on the SOL. The MAC has recommended that a cap of 5,000 places for nurses be set within the overall Tier 2 cap of 20,700; the limit of 5,000 will be reduced gradually over the next five years. The MAC has also recommended that anyone wishing to employ a nurse on a Tier 2 visa carry out the Residential Labour Market Test before recruiting from outside the EEA.