The Skilled Worker Rules

06 May 2016

The government has recently announced important changes to Tier 2 of the Points Based Immigration System. This is the route designed for employers importing skilled workers from outside the EEA for a job which is a recognised shortage occupation alternatively for which the sponsor has been unable to recruit a suitable candidate from within the EEA. 

  • The minimum salary threshold in Tier 2 (General) will rise to £25,000 in October then to £30,000 next April (the minimum salary for settlement in this country from Tier 2 is now £35,000). This is intended to stop businesses using foreign workers to undercut UK wages.
  • Reflecting “ongoing public sector pay restraint and specific recruitment challenges” (which being interpreted means the law of supply and demand is extremely inconvenient to public sector employers) nurses, medical radiographers, paramedics and secondary school teachers in maths, physics, chemistry, computer science and mandarin will be exempt from the new salary threshold – so these workers employers may continue to under-pay them. This will continue until July 2019.
  • Nurses remain on the Shortage Occupation List but employers will have to meet the resident labour market test from which shortage occupations are otherwise exempt.
  • There will be a minimum salary threshold in Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) of £41,500 from next April and the threshold for long term employees will be reduced from £155,000 to £120,000. At the same time the minimum salary for graduate trainees posted to this country under this route will fall from £24,800 to £23,000 and the permitted number of imported trainees will rise from five to twenty per employer. On balance this will make it more attractive for multi-nationals to second non-EEA workers to this country.
  • The Immigration Health Surcharge will be extended to all intra-company transferees in October.
  • The Immigration Skills Charge which is intended to “incentivise employers to reduce their reliance on migrant workers and to invest in training and up-skilling UK workers” has been set at £1,000 per Certificate of Sponsorship per year with a reduced rate of £364 for small employers and charities. Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) graduate trainees and students switching from study visas into Tier 2 will be exempt from the charge.