Immigration Roundup

05 / 01 / 2017

Starting from April of this year, employers who sponsor overseas workers in the UK with a Tier 2 status will be required to pay the Immigration Skills Charge (the ISC). The charge is due to be set at £1000 per overseas worker per year or at the reduced rate of £364 per annum per worker for small or charitable organisations.

How and when the payments are to be made has not yet been announced, however, it is likely that the money will be payable in full at the beginning of a sponsorship period (when the certificate of sponsorship is assigned).

To save unnecessary costs, employers should consider now whether to bring forward recruitment processes for new employees or applications for extension of Tier 2 status for existing employees to ensure that they are completed before the ISC is imposed.

In addition, employers recruiting Tier 2 workers from overseas as new employees should be aware that there is likely to be higher than usual demand for the limited number of Tier 2 Restricted Certificates of Sponsorship as employers seek to beat the start date for the ISC. This may mean that the number of certificates required is smaller than those available for only the third time since the imposition of the cap in 2011.

The ISC is seen by the Government as a key step towards reducing employer reliance on migrant workers and incentivising  employment and training of resident workers. However, there will be exemptions for PhD level jobs and for international students switching their status to Tier 2 workers from within the UK  in a measure to ensure that the UK continues to attract talented students and protect the UK’s world-class reputation for education and research.

Coming in at the same time will be a further increase to the minimum salary level for experienced Tier 2 General sponsored workers from £25,000 to £30,000 (although there will be exemptions for some medical roles as well as some secondary school teachers until 2019). The minimum salary for junior staff (classed as “new entrants”) will remain at £20,800.

More bad news, this time for Tier 2 Intra-Company Transferees, will see the Short Term transfer category and the Skills Transfer category disappearing altogether in favour of a single Long Term Transfer category with a minimum salary requirement of £41,500. However, new graduates can still benefit from the more time limited Graduate Trainee Category for Intra-company transferees with the minimum salary actually decreasing slightly from £24,800 to £23,000.

Another grain of good news exists for more highly paid Intra-Company Transferees as the normal qualifying period of 12 months working for the same group of companies overseas will be waived for all workers earning more than £73,900 and the minimum salary threshold for transferees working the UK for more than 5 years (up to the maximum of 9 years) will be reduced from £155,300 to £120,000.

For further information please contact Julia Jackson at jjackson@wedlakebell.com.