The Government has announced (3 November) changes to the Immigration Rules which will affect applications made on or after 24 November 2016. There will be further changes in April and May 2017. Some of these changes have wider implications for HR practice and procedure. Here is a summary of the changes of most immediate relevance to employers and sponsors.

Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer): changes from 24 November 2016

Following the latest review of Tier 2 by the Migration Advisory Committee, these changes implement the first of two phases of changes to Tier 2 of the Points Based System as follows:

  • Increase in the Tier 2 (General) minimum salary threshold for experienced workers to £25,000, with some limited exemptions
  • Increase in the Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) minimum salary threshold for short term staff to £30,000
  • Reduction in the Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) Graduate Trainee salary threshold to £23,000 and increase in the number of permitted places from 5 to 20 per company per year
  • Closure of the Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer) Skills Transfer sub-category (see corresponding increase in Graduate Trainee allocations)

Intra Company Transferees will be liable to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge from a date to be announced “in due course”.

English language requirement: changes from 1 May 2017

A new English language requirement is being introduced for non-EEA national partners and parents of British citizens and settled persons.

The previous requirement was showing English language at level A1 of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) for Languages.

  • From 1 May 2017 those applying for spouse or partner visas under Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules will need to show English language at level A2 CEFR
  • This will apply to those in the UK making applications to extend their leave to remain after 2.5 years in the UK who were previously granted visas relying on level A1 
  • Applicants who are not nationals of a majority English-speaking country or hold a degree taught or researched in English will need to pass an English language test at level A2 from a Home Office approved test provider

Further Tier 2 changes in April 2017

The following changes are expected in April 2017:

  • Increase in the Tier 2 (General) salary threshold for experienced workers to £30,000
  • Introduction of the Immigration Skills Charge to be levied on Tier 2 employers at a rate of £1,000 per person per year from April 2017, with a reduced rate of £364 for smaller businesses and charities
  • The Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) Short Term Staff category will close to new applicants
  • The minimum salary threshold for Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) higher earners able to work in the UK between five and nine years will be reduced from £155,300 to £120,000
  • For all Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfers) the requirement for at least one years’ continuous employment with the overseas entity will be removed for migrants whose salary in the UK will be £73,900 or over
  • All Intra-Company Transferees must qualify under a single visa category with a minimum salary threshold of £41,500, except Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) Graduate Trainees

Abolition of 28 day period of overstay for the purposes of making a new application

The Government has abolished the 28 day grace period for accepting applications as automatically valid where an individual has overstayed an expiry date.

From 24 November 2016 there will no longer be a 28 day grace period within which to make a new immigration application where:
A previous application for leave to remain has been refused; or

  • Leave that is extended by Section 3C of the Immigration Act 1971 has expired; or
  • The time limit to lodge an appeal or apply for an administrative review of a decision has expired; or
  • An appeal or administrative review has been concluded or withdrawn.

The 28-day rule is replaced with a new 14 day period which will apply in the above situations provided the applicant has a good reason beyond their control, or the control of their representative, as to why an in-time application was not possible. We await clearer guidance from UK Visas & Immigration as to what it will consider a “good reason”.

About the authors

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.

Nyasha Gardner Solicitor

Nyasha advises corporate clients on matters under the Points Based System. She has advised clients across a range of sectors including Education; Charity; Engineering; Construction; Health Care; Health Care Technology, Consultancy; IT and the Visual Effects industry. Nyasha also assists individuals with their immigration applications, covering initial visa applications to enter the UK.