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Earlier this year the government announced its response to two reviews of its Tier 2 policy by the independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) and now it’s finally been announced that some of these changes will be introduced on 24th November 2016.

Tier 2 is the main immigration route for non-EEA nationals to apply to work in the UK and the proposed changes are designed to ensure that employers are incentivised to up-skill and train resident workers, whilst ensuring they can continue to access migrant workers when needed.

So what’s actually changed? Below we take a look at the key changes and what you need to be aware of not only regarding the imminent changes but beyond……..

The headlines
For Tier 2 (General) the minimum salary will increase from GBP £20,800 to £25,000. However, the Home Office has agreed to waive these new salary thresholds for foreign nationals applying to renew their Tier 2 (General) status if they obtained their status before the 24 November implementation date. You should note however, that this transitional exemption measure will end when the next planned minimum salary increase to GBP £30,000 takes place in April 2017.

For Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer [ICT] – Short Term Staff) the minimum salary will increase from GBP £24,800 to £30,000. It is important to note that this immigration route is scheduled to close to new applicants in April 2017.

The 28-day grace period for over stayers is to be abolished and any application for further leave to remain by an over stayer will be refused unless ‘good cause’ is given and it is made within 14 days of the applicant’s leave expiring.

Recent graduates and trainees will be given greater flexibility

In an effort to attract more young, well-educated foreign talent to the UK, the Home Office will also make the following changes to provide sponsoring companies with reduced requirements and greater flexibility in hiring recent graduates and trainees:

  • Applications from non-EU/EEA/Swiss national overseas graduates will receive greater weight in the Tier 2 (General) quota system, giving them a higher likelihood of approval.
  • Tier 2 Graduate Trainees will be permitted to change roles to a permanent position within their sponsoring company upon completion of their training period, without the sponsoring company having to perform a Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT).
  • The number of Tier 2 Graduate Trainees that a sponsoring company can sponsor will be increased from 5 to 20 individuals per year.
  • The salary threshold for Tier 2 Graduate Trainees will decrease to £23,000

Streamlining of the Tier 2 (ICT) Route
Currently, the Home Office offers three primary subcategories within their Tier 2 (ICT) route: Skills Transfer, Short Term Staff, and Long Term Staff. To simplify this highly-utilised immigration stream, the UK authorities plan to consolidate the current three subcategories into a single ICT category based on the following schedule:

  • From 24th November 2016 the Tier 2 (ICT – Skills Transfer) subcategory will close to new applications
  • April 2017 (exact date to be confirmed) – the Tier 2 (ICT – Short Term Staff) subcategory will close to new applications.
  • This will leave a single, long-term Tier 2 (ICT) route from April 2017 going forward.

There’s still more too come…..

Although the majority of changes are about to be enforced you should be aware that there are still more changes ahead and these are:

The Home Office has yet to confirm when Tier 2 (ICT) holders will become subject to the Immigration Health Surcharge. An announcement is expected in the coming weeks.

Some non-EU/EEA/Swiss dependent parents and partners of work permit holders will now be subject to new English language requirements after 2.5 years of residence in the UK. This new requirement, which comes into force on May 1, 2017, is applicable only to individuals on the five-year route to settlement under the Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules.

Now is the time that you should begin preparing for the scheduled April 2017 changes which will serve as the final phase of the expected immigration changes adopted from the MAC’s recommendations.

You can find full details on the changes here and of course please do contact us at TheHRHub, 0203 627 7048 for help and support through the process. For a fixed fee (reduced for existing members) we can take all the hassle away from you for the process.