U.K. Visas and Immigration has published a Statement of Changes to the U.K.’s Immigration Rules, including changes to the Tier 2 route for skilled workers that will be of direct relevance to U.K. sponsoring employers.

The most important change is that nurses and doctors will no longer be counted in the overall 20,700 quota for Tier 2 (General) restricted certificates of sponsorship. UKVI stated that this change was made in response to the acute shortages and pressures currently facing the National Health Service, and the fact that the limit has been oversubscribed in each month since December. The changes will mean that health sector employers will be able to sponsor doctors and nurses directly from the shortage occupation list, without requiring restricted Tier 2 certificates of sponsorship.

The following additional changes are being made to Tier 2:

  • Croatian nationals will require full status as EU nationals on July 1 and therefore will no longer be counted in the quota, creating further relief on the figures.
  • Transitional rules on the skill level of roles suitable for sponsorship have closed—all roles must now be at NQF level 6, i.e., senior and skilled professional graduate level posts.
  • The restriction on Tier 2 migrants holding more than 10 percent of shares in their sponsor will be expanded to restrict such ownership being held indirectly, e.g., through another corporate entity.
  • The evidentiary requirements will change for Tier 2 migrants applying for settlement who have been absent from work on maternity, paternity, shared parental or adoption leave. These applicants will be required to provide evidence of the underlying adoption or birth that necessitated their leave. This change brings the requirements in line with similar requirements elsewhere in the Immigration Rules.
  • References to Find a Job, the service replacing Universal Jobmatch, have been included for the Resident Labour Market Test.
  • Minor drafting corrections were made to correct the Standard Occupational Classification code used for midwives. These corrections have no impact on the way applications for midwives are considered.

Additional changes will impact other immigration categories, including:

  • Making provision for long term U.K. residents, including those affected by Windrush and left with no current proof of status in the U.K., to apply for indefinite leave to enter in order to return to the U.K. if absent for two years or more (to demonstrate that permanent residence has not lapsed).
  • Creating a route for locally engaged Afghan staff to apply for settlement in the U.K. and to extend the ex-gratia redundancy scheme by six years, to include those made redundant on or after May 1, 2006.
  • Creating a new settlement route for Turkish ECAA business persons, workers and their family members.
  • Creating a new form of leave for people transferred to the U.K. under the Dubs Amendment on protection of children, who do not qualify for international protection.

Additional information on the changes, which come into effect on July 6, can be found here.

BAL Analysis: The change to exempt doctors and nurses from the quota has been campaigned for vigorously as a means to relieve the National Health Service from a resourcing crisis, but will also have a positive effect on corporate employers looking to fill skilled vacancies under the Tier 2 (general) scheme. Fewer applicants for Tier 2 Restricted Certificates from the NHS, which currently accounts for half of all applications, should equate to greater access for other U.K. employers and a return to situation where the monthly quota availability largely meets employer demand. The changes for doctors, nurses and Croatians will free up places within the limit for other employers, but because these changes will be kept under review, there remains a possibility of a policy reversal.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in the United Kingdom. For additional information, please contact

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