Changes to the immigration rules fulfill the Migration Advisory Committee’s previous recommendations.
On March 16, the UK government announced changes to the UK’s immigration rules, implementing the final phase of changes previously recommended by the Migration Advisory Committee in March 2016. The majority of these changes will take effect on April 6, 2017.
The UK Home Office is extending the requirement to provide criminal record certificates for certain occupations to Tier 2 (General) applicants and their adult dependent partners. The requirement will not apply to those applying under the Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer (ICT)) route.
Individuals applying from overseas on or after April 6, 2017 where the main applicant is coming to work in the education, health, or social care sector will be required to obtain certificates.
Certificates will also be required for applicants sponsored in certain Standard Occupation Classification Codes, with the intent to strengthen safeguards against applicants with criminal histories trying to enter the United Kingdom. View the full list of the relevant Standard Occupation Classification Codes that will be affected.
As previously announced in March 2016, an Immigration Skills Charge of £1000 per skilled worker per year is being introduced for employers in the Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (ICT) routes. The charge is £364 for small and charitable sponsors.
There are exemptions for Ph.D.-level occupations, ICT graduate trainees, and those persons switching from Tier 4 to Tier 2 in the UK. Income raised from the charge will be used to address skills gaps in the workforce.
The Immigration Health Surcharge was introduced in 2015, and is payable by non–European Economic Area (EEA) nationals who apply to come to the UK to work, study, or join family for a period of more than six months. Non-EEA nationals who are already in the UK and apply to extend their stay must also pay this surcharge.
From April 6, 2017, those persons applying for Tier 2 (ICT) and their dependents will be required to pay a surcharge of £200 per person per year.
This category allows UK companies to sponsor non-EEA nationals to work in skilled roles in the UK. The government has been raising the requirements for sponsorship of such workers for some time, and these new changes will continue in that vein. The main changes include the following:
If an applicant has made an application for entry clearance or leave to remain using a Certificate of Sponsorship that was assigned to the applicant by his or her sponsor before April 6, 2017, the application will be decided in accordance with the rules in force on April 5, 2017.
Changes are being made to support posts associated with the relocation of a high-value business to the UK or a significant new inward investment project.
Where a sponsor is a newly registered (within the last three years) branch or subsidiary of an overseas business and the investment involves new capital expenditure of £27 million or the creation of at least 21 new UK jobs, a waiver for the Resident Labour Market Test will be introduced.
Posts that support the relocation of a high-value business to the UK or a significant new inward investment project will also be exempt from the Tier 2 (General) limit.
Sponsors of creative workers in the Tier 5 Creative and Sporting subcategory must comply with a recruitment code of practice or otherwise take into account the needs of the resident labor market. This requirement will be waived for creative sector jobs that appear on the Shortage Occupation List.
With regard to the codes of practice for creative workers, sponsors will not need to carry out a recruitment search where a performer is required for continuity or is engaged by a unit company for productions outside the UK, rather than outside the EEA, which is the current standard. This ensures that non-EEA nationals who have performed in productions elsewhere in the EEA are not disadvantaged.
The visitor rules are also amended to make clear that applications for visitor visas can be made at any post in the world that is designated by the UK home secretary to accept such applications.
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