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New Immigration Rules affecting Tier 2 and Tier 4

on Tuesday, 08 November 2016.

On 3 November 2016 the Home Office announced forthcoming changes to the Immigration Rules

The main changes are as follows:

Tier 2

The new Rules implement the first of two phases of changes to Tier 2, announced by the government in March following a review by the Migration Advisory Committee. These changes include:

  • The Tier 2 (General) salary threshold for experienced workers is increasing to £25,000 (but not for new entrants where the threshold is held at £20,800). Exemptions for nurses, medical radiographers, paramedics and secondary school teachers in mathematics, physics, chemistry, computer science, and Mandarin will apply until July 2019. The salary threshold is due to increase again to £30,000 in April 2017.
  • The salary threshold for the Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) short term staff category is increasing to £30,000. The category will then be abolished for new applicants in April 2017.
  • The Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) graduate trainee salary threshold is being reduced to £23,000 and the number of places per company per year is increasing from 5 to 20.
  • The Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer) skills transfer sub-category is being closed to new applicants.
  • Tier 4 students who have graduated but returned overseas will be weighted more heavily in the monthly allocation rounds under the Tier 2 limit, but only where they are relying on the advertising rules for 'new graduate jobs or internships', which include a requirement that the recruitment activity included university milkround visits. The existing Rules exempting Tier 4 graduates applying in the UK from the monthly limit and resident labour market test requirements are unchanged.
  • Applicants sponsored in graduate training programmes which cover multiple roles within the organisation are now permitted to change occupation within the programme or at the end of the programme without their sponsor needing to carry out a further Resident Labour Market Test or for them to make a new application.
  • As promised earlier this year, nurses are retained on the Shortage Occupation List but a Resident Labour Market Test must be carried out before a nurse is assigned a Certificate of Sponsorship.

These changes will come into effect for all Certificates of Sponsorship assigned by Tier 2 sponsors on or after 24 November 2016. A separate announcement will be made in relation to the introduction of the Immigration Health Surcharge to intra company transfers.

Tier 4

A number of changes are being made, including amendments to the academic progression rule, maintenance requirements for the Doctorate Extension Scheme and evidence of qualifications.

Other Notable Changes

A change that will affect applications under all categories, both within and outside of the Points-Based System, is the abolition of the '28-day grace period', during which the Home Office currently accept out-of-time applications. This requirement is being dropped because the Home Office say that retaining it 'sends a message which is inconsistent with the need to ensure compliance' with the Rules. Instead the amended Rules provide that an application will not be automatically refused if it is submitted within 14 days of the applicant's leave expiring and the Secretary of State is satisfied that there is a good reason for the delay which is beyond the control of the applicant or their representative.

Another change outside of the Points-based System is the introduction of a new English language requirement for applicants under the partner and parental routes of Appendix FM to the Immigration Rules (being applications submitted by the family members of non-EEA nationals). Currently, applicants need to demonstrate that they can speak and understand spoken English at level A1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) when making their initial application for entry clearance or leave to remain in these categories. That requirement remains in place and then from May next year applicants to extend their stay (i.e. following completion of an initial period of 2.5 years in these categories) will need to show that their English language ability has progressed to level A2 CEFR. The existing requirement that applicants for indefinite leave to remain following 5 years in these categories have progressed their English language ability to level B1 CEFR remains in place.

The announcement also includes relatively minor changes to the Rules on the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur), Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent), Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) and (Temporary Worker) categories and also the consideration of asylum claims and treatment of refugees.


For more information on how these changes might affect you or your organisation please contact Tom Brett Young on 0121 227 3759 or Judith Hockin on 0117 314 5302.

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