Key Changes to Immigration rules  - Tier 2 

Laura Mariani

ThePeopleAlchemist Edit: HR, Business and immigration rules

On 25 February 2015, the Secretary of State issued a Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules, which highlighted a number of changes, most of which came into force on 6 April 2015.
The Tier 2 ‘cooling-off’ period was in place to prevent a migrant who was in the UK under Tier 2 within the previous 12 month period being granted leave under Tier 2 again. From 6 April 2015 onwards, the 12 months ‘cooling-off period’ where the migrant is assigned a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) for three months or less was waived for Tier 2 visas granted for a period of 3 months or less. This enabled employers to sponsor interns and then bring them back to the UK for a permanent job within a one year Period improving flexibility.
With respect to Tier 2 Intra Company Transfer migrants, the qualifying 12 month’s prior employment can now include time spent lawfully employed by a group company in the UK as well as overseas.
The minimum salary thresholds as set out in the Codes of Practice (COP) have increased by 1.2% and the revised salary thresholds will apply from 6 April 2016. The shortage occupation list has been updated with additional criteria. The visitor visa regime has been simplified narrowing down the previous 15 routes to 4 routes and business visitors will fall within the visitor (standards) route, also accommodating tourists. The Home Office is tightening up the Sponsorship Licence regime with additional questions and checks when applying; with current refusal rate sitting at 1 in 3 with a 6 months cooling period for re-application. The "genuineness" test has been applied more stringently where there are reasonable grounds to believe that the job does not genuinely exist or has been exaggerated to meet the Tier 2 skills threshold. The Labour Market Test has been applied strictly and can be assessed at the sponsorship licence, via application Restrictive Certificate of Sponsorship stage. Immigration officers have been told to conduct more compliance checks and visits. Changes to Tier 2 April 2016
The changes made to this route focus on the monthly allocation system of restricted Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS):
  • The government has decided not to increase the 20,700 annual allocations of available restricted CoS for the year ending April 2017
  • The Home Office has revised the monthly quota of restricted CoS available for allocation in order to better reflect the seasonal demand for places, for example, be a high number of restricted CoS available to UK sponsors during the busier summer months and a lower quota during the winter months.
  • The government will not be increasing the salary requirements for this visa category in April.
  • The minimum salary threshold for those applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain on a Tier 2 visa will increase to £35,000.
  • The Home Office has stated that the Points-based System (PBS) calculator cannot be used in support of UK immigration applications as of 6 April 2016. Currently, the PBS calculator helps to identify a person’s eligibility to work or study in the UK by looking at the level of their international qualifications. From 6 April this year onwards, however, UK immigration customers will be required to use and pay for a similar service provided by UK NARIC instead. (Visas and immigration)
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