On the 24th March, the Home Office responded to the Migration Advisory Committee recommendations and it’s good news for students.
Tier 4 students switching into Tier 2 (General) will not be faced with a Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) or subject to a cap on numbers. There is no doubt that we will not only see universities breathe a sigh of relief, but also the students themselves who already pay thousands of pounds per annum to study in the United Kingdom. The government also aims to keep the minimum threshold for new entrants to £20,800.
If many people awaiting the Home Office response to the MAC recommendations were not surprised enough, Tier 2 (General) applicants will not face immediate hikes in salary thresholds with minimum thresholds being phased in slowly between autumn of this year and April 2017. In autumn 2016, the minimum salary threshold will be £25,000, increasing to £30,000 in April 2017.
According to the Home Office, various education and health professionals will even be exempt from the higher threshold altogether until July 2019, a welcome break for numerous employers and applicants.
It is clear that the government is placing emphasis on the need for healthcare professionals who there is currently a shortage of. Nurses will continue to be on the Shortage Occupation List, however, employers will need to ensure that a RLMT is carried out prior to recruiting non-EEA nurses once the rules are implemented.
Tier 2 (ICT) will also face some changes in an attempt to streamline the process into a single visa category, requiring a minimum salary threshold of £41,500 – excluding graduate trainees.
Whilst it was predicted that an Immigration Skills Charge of £1,000 per applicant per annum would take effect as of the 6th April 2016, the Home Office have announced that this will be introduced in April 2017. There will also be a lower rate for small sponsors, at £364 per annum and an exemption for Tier 2 (ICT) Graduate Trainees, PhD occupations, and Tier 4 students switching into Tier 2.
Migrate UK Managing Director, Jonathan Beech, says that “I’m sure that many people (including myself) have been taken by surprise to see that the Home Office will only implement a few of the MAC recommendations, giving sponsors and applicants a grace period to submit prior to April 2017, when we will see some of the largest changes introduced.”