Tier 2 is a UK visa category which allows skilled professionals from outside the European Economic Area to come to the UK for work purposes. In order to be successful, applicants for this visa category must receive a job offer from a UK employer prior to submitting their application and this employer must have a Tier 2 sponsor licence in order to be able to legally employ migrants in the UK.
The overriding outcome of the new rules is that recruitment costs for UK employers could sky rocket if they continue to source skilled workers from outside the European Union. For many companies, however, looking further afield for their employees is not a choice, rather a necessity born of a lack of suitable talent in the UK.
So what’s changed for Tier 2?
New salary thresholds: The minimum salary threshold for experienced workers applying under the Tier 2 (General) route has increased to £25,000 and will increase once more to £30,000 in April 2017. The Tier 2 Intra-company Transfer (ICT) route has also experienced hikes in its minimum salary threshold and applicants must now be paid at least £30,000 in order for their application to be considered by the Home Office.
Subcategory closure: The Tier 2 (ICT) subcategory ‘Skills Transfer’ has closed to new applications. This category was previously used for transferring overseas employees to the UK for a maximum period of six months in order for them to acquire skills or knowledge necessary to performing their overseas roles. The closure of this route means that such transfers may no longer be possible as ICT applicants must now satisfy the steeper requirements of the nearest available visa category, Tier 2 (ICT) Short Term.
Prioritisation of overseas graduates: The recent changes attempt to ease the hiring process of overseas graduates for UK employers. To this end, the minimum salary threshold for such Tier 2 visa applicants has actually been reduced to £23,000 and their applications will be prioritised within the Tier 2 monthly limit. The number of graduate trainee places available each year to UK employers has increased from five to 20.