Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Minimum Salary for Tier 2 Work Permits to Rise to £30,000 as UK Immigration gets Tougher for Non-EU Migrants

If you think 2016 was a tough year for non-EU migrants, 2017 is about to get even harder, especially for anyone considering coming to the UK on a Tier 2 (General) working visa, such as a nurse.

The Immigration Act 2016 will see the Home Office bring in sweeping changes from April to the Tier 2 General work permit rules, including increasing the minimum salary requirement to £30,000, with no transitional arrangement for those sponsored between 24 November 2016 and April 2017. 

Nursing will remain on the Shortage Occupation List, as there are still thousands of nurse jobs in the UK. But for the first time employers will be required to carry out a ‘Resident Labour Market Test’ before assigning a nurse a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS), even if the job is on the national shortage list.

The new minimum salary will automatically exclude many jobs and is above the UK average income, such as band 5 NHS nurses who start as around £26,000,

In addition, a new ‘Genuineness’ test will mean that Tier 2 applicants must satisfy the Home Office or entry clearance officer that they genuinely intend to undertake and are capable of undertaking the job for which the CoS is assigned.This could include attending an interview for entry clearance visas or further leave to remain.

Employers will be hit by a new tax or 'Immigration Skills Charge' of £1000 per year, per migrant to 'encourage' them to invest in training resident workers. There will be an exemption for PhD occupations, Tier 2 (ICT-Graduate Trainees) and Tier 4 students switching to Tier 2. The Home Office will also have more powers to search and seize documents from an employer, such as wage slips and time sheets, in order to build a case against them and an illegal worker.

Migrants will no longer have a 28-day ‘grace period’ in which to apply for further leave to remain, which means you could be branded a visa overstayer on your immigration record.

UK settlement rules are being tightened from April 2016, after which some Tier 2 visa holders will have to be earning a minimum of £35,000 per annum in order to apply for permanent residency or indefinite leave to remain. If you do not meet the salary requirement, you will not be able to stay in the UK for longer than six years and will not be able to reapply for another Tier 2 visa until you have completed a 12-month ‘cooling-off’ period outside the UK.

The Brexit, or leave EU vote, will do little to curb European immigration in the next few years as arguments rage over what type of exit Britain wants. This week the Supreme Court ruled that the Article 50 process, the mechanism required to trigger UK's exit from the European Union, must be put before MP's in Parliament. And with EU leaders insisting that free movement of labour is non-negotiable when it comes to thrashing out any trade deals, it looks like the only option for Home Secretary Amber Rudd to reduce immigration to the UK is to continue restricting non-EU migrants.

Across the pond in America today, Donald Trump has announced a halt on the U.S. refugee immigration programme for a temporary period. In his inauguration speech Trump spoke of 'America first' and wants to boost employment for resident workers. However, America still has a shortage of around one million nurses and the IT sector in the U.S and UK needs to attract the brightest and best for their growing digital economy.

The Immigration Act will have a number of consequences for Tier 2 employers and migrant workers. I will be giving you further guidance on the settlement (ILR) changes, as well as other changes, such as Tier 4 student visa switching rules, in future articles.

See also:

Uber offering free English courses to migrant worker drivers

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