Some major changes to business immigration rules have been proposed.
The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has just published its recommendations to reform the skilled worker route into the UK for non EEA (European Economic Area) nationals. Last summer, the Government requested that the MAC undertake a review of both Tier 2 – General and Tier 2 -Intracompany Transfer (ICT) with a view to substantially restricting immigration using this route.
Tier 2 is the primary route for migration to the UK and migrants can enter the UK where they have an offer of employment from a UK company with a Tier 2 sponsor licence.
The MAC has made a number of key recommendations which include:
• A minimum salary threshold for Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (ICT) migrants of £30,000.
• An Immigration Skills Charge of £1,000 per year per Tier 2 migrant.
• An increase in the qualifying employment period from 12 months to two years for the Tier 2 (ICT) route.
• A more detailed job description on the Certificate of Sponsorship.
• The Immigration Health Surcharge for Tier 2.
• A new Tier 2 (ICT) for those carrying out work on-site for third parties with a minimum salary threshold of £41,500.
Although the Government is not obliged to follow these recommendations, historically the majority of changes proposed by MAC have been implemented in the past. If the recommendations are introduced, the cost of sponsoring non EEA nationals to work in the UK may be significantly increased. The changes are likely to have wide reaching effects on small employers and specifically those who employ professionals in social care and medical sectors.
The Government will consider the MAC report in light of the Immigration Rules which are due to come into force on the 6th April 2016. Although the proposed amendments are unlikely to be approved by then, it’s anticipated that we will see some changes introduced by the end of the year.