The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has been commissioned by the Government to conduct a review of the Tier 2 route. The commission is split into two parts with the first focusing on the rationale for and impact on net migration of setting new minimum salary thresholds. The second part of the review will be conducted later in the autumn and will involve a wider review of Tier 2 of the Points Based System.

The MAC has been asked to complete the first part of this work by 21 July 2015 and has published the Call for Evidence document requesting that interested parties provide their views and evidence no later than 03 July 2015.

The MAC has been asked to assess the impact of:

  • Increasing the Tier 2 (General) minimum salary threshold of £20,800 and the Tier 2 (ICT) minimum salary thresholds of £24,800 for the short term sub-category and £41,500 for the long term sub-category to a level that better aligns with the salaries paid to highly specialised experts or individuals filling skills shortages skilled to NQF level 6 or higher;
  • Increasing the Tier 2 minimum salaries per occupation for experienced workers from the 25th percentile to the 50th or even the 75th percentiles, or other appropriate measures;
  • Increasing the minimum salaries per occupation for the new entrant workers from the 10th percentile to the 25th or 50th percentiles, or other appropriate measures.

To provide our clients with more detail in respect of raising the new entrant and experienced worker rates and what impact such increases may have to the minimum salary thresholds please see below for a sample of SOC codes.

SOC code Current New entrant rate (10th percentile)

Annual salary if set at 50th percentile
(approximate)

Current Experienced worker rate
(25th percentile) 

Annual salary if set at 75th percentile
(approximate)

 
1115 Chief Executive and Senior Officials  £35,300 £52,900 £82,500 £127,896
3545 Sales Accounts and Business Development Managers £25,000 £32,500 £42,500 £57,887
2423 Management Consultants and Business Analysts £23,000 £30,000 £40,500 £54,120
2413 Solicitors £24,700 £32,000 £41,000 £52,547

MAC has confirmed the key issues that it will be considering and the MAC publication can be located here.

We would encourage you to participate in the consultation, you can email your comments directly to mac@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

Tier 2 (General) Restricted CoS monthly allocation

As most clients will be aware, the Government has been making available in the form of a monthly pool a number of Restricted Tier 2 (General) CoS for new hires who do not meet the high earner salary requirement (currently £155,300 per annum). The annual immigration cap on restricted CoS is set at 20,700 applications per year running from April 6 one year to April 5 the following year. This equates to about 1,725 CoS available per month for the UKVI panel to allocate. Restricted CoS are allocated on a points system which broadly means the higher the salary, the greater the chance of a restricted CoS being granted.

In June 2015, for the first time that we are aware, the number of applications for restricted CoS far exceeded the number available in the monthly pool. This resulted in many applications being rejected including jobs with an annual salary in excess of £50,000. It is possible that some employers, having heard that the Government was looking to restrict the number of skilled workers even further, tried to pre-empt any changes to Tier 2 by making a large number of restricted CoS applications.

The knock-on effect is that applications submitted throughout the coming months may well also be rejected owing to the number of rejected applications being re-submitted each month.

In order to comply with the Resident Labour Market Test, employers may take the decision to re-advertise the position with a higher annual salary hoping to increase their chance of success. However, in turn this could inflate the salary threshold that will need to be met in order to secure a successful outcome.

The UK Government has stated that it will not be increasing the cap over the lifetime of this parliament and clients may, therefore, wish to consider the wider implications to their business if restricted CoS applications continue to be rejected.

Changes to the Immigration Health Surcharge

UK Visas and Immigration have announced changes to the way applicants pay the health surcharge. On 5th July 2015, they will introduce a new integrated surcharge payment process to extract the relevant information from an overseas online application or from the Premium Service Centre (PSC) appointment portal.

If an applicant is required to obtain a health surcharge reference, when completing an online application from overseas or booking an appointment at a PSC they will be re-directed to a new surcharge payment website.

Postal applications from within the UK remain unchanged and will continue to use the existing online payment portal.

Overseas clients will have to start a new online application if they have not paid the surcharge and submitted their application by 17:59 (BST) on 04 July 2015.

Clients applying from inside the UK will have to start a new online application if they have not paid the surcharge and submitted their application by 06:59 (BST) on 04 July 2015.

The current guidance can be located here and will be updated to reflect these changes.

About the author

Matthew Davies Partner

Matthew is an expert in business immigration law, advising employers, business people and investors on how best to navigate the complexities of the UK’s immigration rules and minimising delays, costs and risks in hiring talent from overseas.