Changes relating to Tier 2 of the Points-Based System
Tier 2 of the Points-Based System caters for migrant workers with an offer of a skilled job from a licensed employer. There are four overall categories: General, Intra-Company Transfer (ICT), Minister of Religion, and Sportsperson.
The Government announced changes to Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (ICT) on 24 March 2016 following a review published by the independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) on 19 January 2016. The Government announced that the changes would be introduced in two stages, in autumn 2016 and April 2017. This Statement includes the changes announced for autumn 2016, and additional minor changes.
The changes to each specific category are set out below. In addition, the time given to applicants and sponsors to respond to requests for further information in relation to genuineness assessments in both categories is being reduced from 28 calendar days to 10 working days, for consistency with other similar requirements elsewhere in the Immigration Rules. Minor changes are also being made across both these categories to clarify appropriate rate requirements and replace outdated references to the UK Border Agency.
Tier 2 (General)
The Tier 2 (General) category is for migrant workers with an offer of a skilled job from a licensed employer which cannot be filled by a resident worker.
The following changes are being made following the review of Tier 2 by the MAC:
- The salary threshold for experienced workers has been increased to £25,000 for the majority of new applicants (the salary threshold for new entrants has been held at £20,800).
- An exemption from this increase will apply for nurses, medical radiographers, paramedics and secondary school teachers in mathematics, physics, chemistry, computer science, and Mandarin. The exemption will end in July 2019. For clarity, the salary thresholds are being set out in a new table.
- As a transitional arrangement, the £25,000 threshold will not apply to workers sponsored in Tier 2 (General) before 24 November 2016, if they apply to extend their stay in the category. The Government intends to increase the threshold to £30,000 in April 2017; there will be no such transitional arrangement for workers sponsored in Tier 2 (General) between 24 November 2016 and April 2017 – they will need to satisfy the £30,000 threshold in any future application. UK graduates who have returned overseas have been weighted more heavily in the monthly allocation rounds under the Tier 2 limit. Graduates who apply in the UK continue to be exempt from the limit.
- A change is being made to facilitate changes of occupation for applicants sponsored in graduate training programmes. This enables them to change occupation within the programme or at the end of the programme, without their sponsor needing to carry out a further Resident Labour Market Test or for them to make a new application.
The following additional changes to Tier 2 (General) are being made:
- From April 2017 a change to the Rules around advertising via a milkround will be introduced to close a loophole in which a sponsor can offer a job to a migrant 4 years after carrying out a milkround, without the need for a further recruitment search. Sponsors can continue to rely on a milkround which ended up to 4 years prior to assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship, but only providing the migrant was offered the job within 6 months of that milkround taking place.
- Following a separate review by the MAC on nursing shortages, nurses are being retained on the Shortage Occupation List, but a change is being made to require a Resident Labour Market Test to have been carried out before a nurse is assigned a Certificate of Sponsorship. The rules regarding preregistration nurses are also being consolidated into a new paragraph 77K in Appendix A.
- To prevent abuse, changes are being made to prevent switching from Tier 4 to Tier 2 where the applicant is relying on a qualification obtained via supplementary study and clarify that an applicant switching from Tier 4 must have studied their course at a UK recognised body or a body in receipt of public funding as a higher education institution.
Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer (ICT))
The Tier 2 (ICT) category supports inward investment and trade by allowing multinational employers to transfer key company personnel from overseas to their UK branch. As with Tier 2 (General), a number of changes are being made in response to the review of Tier 2 by the MAC, and have been previously announced. The changes include:
- The salary for short term ICT applicants has been increased to £30,000 for new applicants. A transitional arrangement applies for those already in the UK under the short term route.
- The closure of the Skills Transfer sub-category to new applicants
- Changes to the Graduate Trainee sub-category. The salary threshold has been reduced from £24,800 to £23,000 and the number of places a sponsor can use has been increased from 5 to 20 per year. As with Tier 2 (General), the salary thresholds are being set out in a new table for clarity.
In addition, a redundant paragraph relating to time spent working in the UK for the Sponsor is being removed, and amendments are being made to the evidential requirements to more accurately reflect the criteria relating to previous working for a business linked to the Sponsor.