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New Immigration Law Changes Introduced 24th November 2016

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The Home Office has finally announced a date for a raft of changes to the Immigration Rules, the first part of which will be implemented on 24th November 2016.

The changes affect both Tier 2 visas and Sponsor Licences.

Businesses and Tier 2 visa applicants will need to consult experienced Immigration solicitors to ensure they receive the best advice regarding these changes.

Background to the changes

In December 2015, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) published their report on the Tier 2 visa route entitled: Balancing Migration Selectivity, Investment in Skills and Impacts on UK Productivity and Competitiveness.

The Government tasked MAC to take into account its objective to balance, “reducing volumes under the [Tier 2] route against the desire to ensure the route remains open to the “brightest and best workers who will help Britain succeed”.

MAC interpreted the Governments objective to mean that, “restrictions in Tier 2 should be balanced against their potential impact on the welfare of existing UK residents, reflected by the impact on productivity, innovation, trade and competitiveness”.

Changes to come into force on 24th November 2016

The following changes are to come into force on 24th November 2016.

  • The salary threshold for new Tier 2 (General) hires will increase to £25,000 (this will not apply to any workers sponsored before 24th November 2016 who apply to extend their Tier 2 (General) visa)
  • The salary threshold for new Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) (ICT) Short Term hires will increase to £30,000
  • The Tier 2 ICT Skills transfer sub-category will close to all new applications
  • Overseas graduate hires will be more heavily weighted within the Tier 2 Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) monthly allocation system
  • The salary threshold for Tier 2 Graduate Trainees will decrease to £23,000
  • The number of Graduate Trainee places available to every sponsor will increase from five to 20 per year
  • Nurses will remain on the Shortage Occupations list but a Resident Labour Market Test will now be required before a CoS can be assigned
  • The 28-day grace period for overstayers is to be abolished and any application for further leave to remain by an overstayer will be refused unless ‘good cause’ is given and it is made within 14 days of the applicant’s leave expiring.

Steps UK Sponsor Licence holders need to take to remain compliant

Remaining compliant with UK immigration law is an ongoing challenge for businesses. The best advice comes from experienced Immigration lawyers who understand your business model and commercial ambitions.

To ensure your organisations is meeting its responsibilities, HR departments will need to review the salary levels being offered to Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 ICT recruits employed after 24th November 2016.

Sponsor Licence holders and those with a Tier 2 visa will also need to be vigilant regarding visa expiry, as the 28-day grace period for overstayers is being abolished. This means those who accidently miss extending or switching their visa (whichever is more appropriate) could be denied the opportunity to apply for further leave to remain and removed from the country.

Changes to Business Immigration Visas that may come into force in April 2017

Another raft of changes to the Tier 2 (General) Visa and Tier 2 (ICT) Visa recommended in the MAC report to the government are due to be implemented from April 2017. It is important to note that the law may change prior to Spring next year. Your Immigration lawyer will be able to provide you with the best Immigration law advice regarding the changes closer to the time.

The changes due to come into force in April 2017 include:

  • From April 2017 Sponsor Licence holders will have to pay a fee of £1,000 for every Tier 2 Visa holder, on an annual basis. This will be known as the Immigration Skills Charge, and is likely to be collected on the assigning of Certificates of Sponsorship. Small businesses and charities will only have to pay £364 per person, per year. PhD roles, Tier 2 (ICT) Graduate Trainees Visas and Tier 4 to Tier 2 Visa switchers will be exempt from the charge.
  • The second stage of the Tier 2 (General) Visa salary threshold increase will be brought in, raising the minimum salary Sponsor Licence holders will have to pay to non-EEA employees to £30,000.
  • The Tier 2 (ICT – Short Term Staff) Visa will be closed to new applications. This will mean will mean that all Tier 2 (ICT) migrants (except those entering under the Tier 2 (ICT) Graduate Trainee route) will have to be paid a minimum annual salary of £41,500.
  • The minimum annual salary for Tier 2 (ICT) Visa route applicants who are ‘high earners’ will reduce from £155,300 to £120,000.
  • “High Value” businesses relocating to the UK will be granted exemption from labour market testing requirements and given priority in Tier 2 (General) Visa monthly quota limitations.

OTS Solicitors is one of the most respected Immigration law firms in London. By making an appointment with one of our Immigration solicitors, you can be assured of receiving the best legal advice available in the UK today. We can assist you with all aspects of Sponsor Licence and Tier 2 (General) and ICT Visa applications.

If you wish to discuss any of the points raised in this blog, please phone our London office on 0203 959 9123

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