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Immigration – watch out for minimum salary rises

Employers who need to recruit workers from outside the EEA should be aware of the forthcoming changes to the minimum salary levels.

What is happening?

In Autumn 2016, the Government will increase the minimum salary required for the majority of ‘new entrants’ under Tier 2 visas from £20,800 to £25,000, rising to £30,000 in April 2017.

The minimum salary thresholds will also apply to experienced workers, unless a higher rate is specified in the Standard Occupation Classification code.

In respect of Tier 2 Intra Company Transfers, the short term transfer category will close altogether in April 2017 and a minimum salary threshold of £41,500 (currently £24,800) will then apply (the salary level for graduate trainees will be £23,000).

As such, there will be a substantial reduction in the number of jobs eligible for sponsorship under this route.

However, jobs with a salary of £73,900 or more will not require any prior service (currently 12 months) and for those who have a salary over £120,000, they will be able to remain in the UK for up to nine years (currently this only applies to those with salaries above £155,300).

What other changes are happening?

From April 2017, there will be extra weighting within the Tier 2 (General) monthly limit for those places associated with the relocation of high-value business to the UK which promotes inward investment, though the finer details of this are yet to be confirmed.

In addition, the requirement to carry out the resident labour market test for such applications will be waived.

What does this mean for me?

In view of the upcoming changes, sponsors of non-EEA nationals in the UK should carefully consider how the increase to the minimum salary threshold will affect both their recruitment of new migrant workers and the retention of workers through extension of current visas.

As always, it is vital to check that the rate an individual is being paid meets the minimum threshold for the specific occupation of that individual, as this may be higher than the general minimum salary threshold.

As the date for these changes has not yet been confirmed, employers should always check the latest position on the UK Visas and Immigration website.

How can Ward Hadaway help?

Our immigration team can assist you in obtaining a sponsor licence, creating and allocating certificates of sponsorship, and help individuals with their initial visa applications or extension applications.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you need further assistance with any immigration matters, including the effect of the salary threshold changes.