The United Kingdom has published a Statement of Changes to immigration rules, providing more information on the U.K.’s points-based immigration system that is set to be implemented Dec 1.

Key Points:

  • The government will introduce a Skilled Worker route to replace the Tier 2 (General) route. The route will be for both EEA and non-EEA nationals. Applicants will have to be sponsored by a specific employer licensed by the Home Office. Among key differences:
    • The minimum skill threshold will be broadened from graduate occupations to occupations skilled to RQF level 3. This is roughly equivalent to A-levels or Scottish Highers. Applicants will not need a formal qualification.
    • The general salary threshold will be lowered from £30,000 a year to £25,600 a year. Sponsors will continue to be required to pay their skilled workers the minimum threshold or the “going rate” for the occupation, whichever is higher. Sponsored workers may be paid less than the minimum, depending on the tradeable points they are awarded.
    • The cap for sponsoring skilled workers under Tier 2 General will be removed, reducing end-to-end processing by up to four weeks.
    • Sponsors will not need to undertake a Resident Labour Market Test, reducing processing times by an additional four weeks.
    • The 12-month “cooling off period” and six-year maximum length of stay in the route will be removed.
    • The £35,800 salary threshold for settlement applications will be removed. Instead, sponsors will be required pay their skilled workers a minimum salary of £25,600 or more per year or the going rate for the occupation.
    • Shortage occupations workers or those in listed health or education occupations may be paid £20,480 per year. Their pay must be equal to or more than the going rate for the occupation.
    • The government will consider recommendations in a Sept. 29 Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) report on the Shortage Occupation List.
  • The Intra-Company Transfer route and the Intra-Company Graduate Trainee will be revised into a points-based format.
    • Instead of a cooling-off period, migrants ICT workers can hold Intra-Company Transfer leave for up to five years in any six-year rolling period or up to nine years in any ten-year period for high earners.
    • The salary threshold for high earners will be £73,900 per year. Workers who make that amount or more will be allowed to hold Intra-Company Transfer leave for up to nine years in any ten-year rolling period. They will not need to have worked for the overseas business for 12 months before coming to the U.K.
    • In-country switching into the Intra-Company Transfer route will be made simpler, but applicants will still be required to be an existing employee having worked overseas before applying unless they are applying as a high earner.
    • Individuals will be allowed to switch inside the U.K. from a number of long-term visas such as Tier 2 (ICT) visa and Tier 5 Youth Mobility visa. Individuals whose last leave was a Visitor; Short-term student; Parent of a Child Student; Seasonal Worker; Domestic Worker in a Private Household; or outside the Immigration Rules will not be permitted to switch into the Skilled Worker visa in the U.K.
    • The government will take steps to simplify aspects of the visitor route. Visitors will be permitted up to six months of study. Drivers on international routes will be permitted to collect and deliver goods and passengers in and out of the U.K. A requirement that volunteering be incidental to the purpose of the visit will be dropped, and the sporting and creative Permitted Paid Engagement provisions will be separated to apply different requirements to the two categories.

Additional Information: The full Statement of Changes policy paper can be found on this website. Besides the Statement of Changes, the U.K. government also recently released additional guidance on conducting right-to-work checks for EU nationals. Deloitte will provide additional updates on the transition to the new immigration system as further information becomes available.

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