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The only constant changes to the UK Immigration Rules

08 November 2016

Sponsored Migrants - the Tier 2 Skills Transfer subcategory will close on 24 November 2016.

Sponsored Migrants

The Tier 2 Skills Transfer subcategory will close on 24 November 2016.

Salary level changes

The minimum salary levels for sponsored migrants in the various subcategories of Tier 2 will be as follows from 24 November 2016

  • Tier 2 General experienced workers - £25,000 (up from £20,800). Transitional arrangements are available, but this threshold is going up again in April 2017, to £30,000, and transitional arrangements will not be available for migrants sponsored between 24 November 2016 and April 2017, i.e. they will have to meet the £30,000 salary level in April 2017
  • Tier 2 General new entrants - £20,800 (no change)
  • Tier 2 Intra Company Transfer Long Term migrants - £41,500 (no change)
  • Tier 2 Intra Company Transfer Short Term migrants - £30,000 (up from £24,800). This subcategory will close in April 2017
  • Tier 2 Intra Company Transfer Graduate Trainee migrants - £23,000 (down from £24,800)

Hiring graduates

Home Office policy on fulfilling the Resident Labour Market Test allows sponsors to fulfil the test through a ‘milkround’ exercise comprised of visiting UK universities and advertising via particular fora targeting graduates. A couple of changes to the Immigration Rules relate to milkrounds.

Where a milkround has been used to satisfy the Resident Labour Market Test, sponsors will still be able to rely on a milkround which ended up to 4 years prior to assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship, but the applicant must be offered the job within 6 months of the end of the milkround. The new Rule is effective 24 November 2016 for Certificates of Sponsorship assigned on or after that date. The current Rule does not place any restrictions on the timing of a job offer relating to a milkround exercise.

When a sponsor makes a request for a Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship allocation to sponsor a Tier 2 General migrant they have selected through a milkround process, the request will receive 30 extra points when the Home Office assesses the request against other requests for Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship allocations. Only migrants who are counted towards the annual limit of 20,700 on sponsored workers must apply for restricted certificates of sponsorship. Graduates who apply from within the UK to Tier 2 General are not subject to the annual limit, so this change will only be relevant to those applying from overseas. This change will be effective from for Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship allocation requests decided on or after 12 December 2016.

Tier 2 General migrants sponsored to undertake a graduate training programme covering multiple roles within an organisation will be able to move into roles falling under different standard occupational classification (SOC) codes, without having to make a fresh visa application. The graduate training programme participants will be able to move between SOC codes during the relevant programme or at the end of it, to take on a permanent role. This change is effective 24 November 2016.

Employers will be able to sponsor up to 20 migrants per year under the Tier 2 Graduate Trainee subcategory, up from 5 per year. This change is effective 24 November 2016.

Visitors

From 24 November 2016, visitors will be able to submit their applications at any post. Visit visa applicants, including those who will be engaging in permitted business activities in the UK, will no longer have to be living in the country where they apply.

Family members

Where a migrant has previously been granted entry clearance or leave to remain as a partner or parent and satisfied the English language requirement for that application by passing an English language test at level A1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, they will have to provide evidence of English language ability at the next level, level A2, to extend their visa. This change will come into effect on 1 May 2017.

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