Tier 2: policy changes

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Passport control

05 / 4 / 2016 Midday

The government has made clear its commitment to reducing migration to the UK. In 2015, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) was asked to provide advice to the government on the following two areas:

  • Review of Tier 2 - changes to the way the sponsorship route to employment operates
  • Partial review of the shortage occupation list - nursing shortages

After considering the MAC recommendations, the government has announced the changes to the Tier 2 (General) immigration route and a decision to keep nursing on the shortage occupation list. 

Reforming Tier 2 of the points-based immigration system

The government has announced policy changes to the Tier 2 (General) migration route that will take effect in autumn 2016 and April 2017. These changes will have implications for recruitment activities outside of the EEA. 

A summary of the upcoming changes is provided below. We have also produced a short factsheet and you can find answers to questions about what these changes will mean in practice for overseas recruitment in our Q&A section

Changes taking effect from autumn 2016

Salary thresholds

These new salary thresholds will only apply to those making a new application under Tier 2 (General) for the first time from autumn 2016. Those already in Tier 2 or applying for extensions or change of employer before autumn 2016 will not be affected.

Tier 2 (General) overall minimum thresholds  Current salary thresholds  New salary threshold  What does this mean in practice?
Experienced workers  £20,800 £30,000 Phased change: £25,000 from autumn 2016 to £30,00 from April 2017.
Nurses, medical radiographers and paramedics are exempt from increase until July 2019
 New entrants £20,800 £20,800 Separate minimum salary threshold for new entrants into Tier 2 (General). New entrants are students switching from Tier 4 to Tier 2, new graduate recruits where a resident labour market test (RLMT) has been met through university 'milkround' recruitment, and a person aged 25 or under.
Prioritisation for Tier 2 (General)

  • The limit of restricted certificates of sponsorship (RCoS) will remain at 20,700 places each year.
  • After priority is given to shortage occupations, then PhD occupations, prioritisation on the basis of salary will continue.
  • Nursing will remain on the shortage occupation list (SOL), but employers need to first carry out a RLMT before recruiting a non-EEA nurse.
  • When the RCoS limit is reached, until 2019 nurses, medical radiographers and paramedics will be given extra points in the allocation process.
  • New graduate recruits will be given additional points in the allocation process where the RLMT has been met through university 'milkround' recruitment. 

Changes taking effect from April 2017

Immigration Skills Charge 

An Immigration Skills Charge (ISC) will be applied to to employers of non-EEA migrants under Tier 2 from April 2017. The charge is a fixed amount set at £1,000 per person per year of the sponsorship and must be paid upfront by the employer. The ISC will not apply to Tier 4 students switching to Tier 2 or PhD occupations and the funding will be used to train resident workers.

Download our at a glance factsheet for a full summary of the the Tier 2 policy reform details.

Immigration application fee changes

On 11 January 2016, the government set out its proposed changes to the fees for visas, immigration and nationality applications for 2016–17. 

In summary, from 18 March 2016:
  • fees for Tier 2 certificates of sponsorship will stay at the current rates
  • increase in the cost of a Tier 2 work visa of two per cent
  • cost of a Tier 2 sponsor licence stays the same
  • cost of an application for settlement has increased by £239 to £1,195. 

The new fees for applications can be found in the fees table.

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