By Cynthia Barker, Immigration Adviser
Under the Immigration Act 2016, the Home Office are introducing drastic changes from April 2017 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.
Nurses – who currently earn around £26,000 per annum for an NHS Band 5 role – are retained on the Shortage Occupation List, 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.
A new ‘Genuineness’ test will require Tier 2 applicants to satisfy the Home Office that they genuinely intend to undertake and are capable of undertaking the job for which the CoS is assigned, including attending an interview for entry clearance or leave to remain.
Employers will have to pay a new 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 greater 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.
Migrant workers will no longer enjoy a 28-day ‘grace period’ in which to apply for further leave to remain, which means you could be branded an overstayer on your immigration record.
The settlement rules are also 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 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 new Immigration Act will have serious 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 my next article, as thousands of Filipinos will be adversely affected.
If you need further advice or have visa or employment issues, please email me – firstname.lastname@example.org