In this GMS Flash Alert we highlight several of the important changes to the U.K. immigration rules happening on 6 April 2017.
As reported in GMS Flash Alert 2017-030, today, on 6 April 2017, significant changes to the U.K. Immigration Rules for Tier 2 employer-sponsored migrants are coming into force.
Among the changes are the introduction of an Immigration Skills Charge (“ISC”) payable by sponsors for each sponsored migrant, the imposition of the Immigration Health Surcharge to Tier 2 (ICT) migrants and their dependents, increases in application fees, and new minimum salary thresholds.
We highlight several of the important changes in this GMS Flash Alert.
The changes to the U.K. Immigration Rules affect all Tier 2 applications. The changes will significantly increase costs to U.K. employers when sponsoring non-European Economic Area (EEA) nationals to work in the U.K. as a result of increases in minimum salary thresholds and the introduction of additional and increased charges. The changes will impact short- and long-term planning and decision-making within the private and public sectors and have cost and resourcing implications for employers who rely on non-EEA nationals to support U.K. operations.
The new Immigration Skills Charge (“ISC”) is levied on Tier 2 sponsors at a rate of GBP 1,000 per sponsored migrant per year. A reduced rate of GBP 364 per sponsored migrant per year applies to small and charitable sponsors. The ISC applies to both Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (Intra-company transfer – ICT) visa applications. Applications may be refused if the required ISC is not paid in full.
The ISC is payable up-front at the time a sponsor issues a Certificate of Sponsorship (COS) and applies to all Tier 2 applications except the following:
The Immigration Health Surcharge (“IHS”) was introduced in 2015 and was required to be paid by non-EEA nationals (including Tier 2 (General) applicants) coming to the U.K. for more than six months.1 Tier 2 ICT applications were previously exempt.
From 6 April 2017, Tier 2 (ICT) migrants and their dependants will also be required to pay the IHS of GBP 200 per person per year of their visa or leave to remain at the time of application.
Those coming to the U.K. for six months or less will continue to be exempt from the requirement to pay the IHS.
Tier 2 (General) migrants intending to work in the education, health, and social care sectors are now required to provide a criminal record certificate. Adult dependants of the Tier 2 (General) migrants working in those sectors and applying from overseas, on or after 6 April 2017, are also subject to this requirement.2
Criminal record certificates have to be produced for all countries in which the applicant has resided for 12 months or more, consecutively or cumulatively, in the 10 years preceding their application, while the applicant has been aged 18 years or over.
Applicants to work in these sectors under other visa types, such as Tier 2 (Intra-company transfer), are not affected.
Due to annual updates to the minimum salary rates stated in the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) Codes of Practice for Skilled Workers the majority of occupations see an increase in the minimum salary that must be paid to a Tier 2 worker.3 However, some occupations see a small decrease.
Fees for most immigration applications are going up. Of particular relevance to businesses are small increases in the application fees in all Tier 2 categories, larger increases for priority processing services inside and outside the U.K., and an increase from GBP 1,875 to GBP 2,297 in the application fee for indefinite leave to remain. A full list of the new fees. (PDF 115 KB)
The requirement that dependants of a ‘Tier 2 migrant visa’ must not spend more than 180 days per year outside the U.K. to qualify for indefinite leave to remain is removed, having been added in 2016 with retrospective effect.6
There are various changes to other immigration categories which have limited relevance to U.K. employers. However, one that employers should watch out for is the definition of “a week” for the purposes of calculating the maximum time allowable for employing a Tier 4 student. A week is now defined as Monday to Sunday.
1 For related coverage, see GMS Flash Alert 2016-025 (15 February 2016).
2 For prior coverage, see GMS Flash Alert 2017-004 (10 January 2017).
3 For prior coverage, see GMS Flash Alert 2016-127 (8 November 2016).
4 For prior coverage, see GMS Flash Alert 2016-046 (30 March 2016).
6 See “Tiers 2 and 5: Guidance for Sponsors” published by the Home Office
The KPMG Legal Services – Immigration Team has a wealth of experience in transactional, advisory, and compliance assurance services. We will be able to advise your business in relation to practical considerations in light of the above changes, as well as what this means for your long-term recruitment and compliance strategies.
* Please note the KPMG International member firm in the United States does not provide immigration or labour law services.
The information contained in this newsletter was submitted by the KPMG International member firm in the United Kingdom.
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