United Kingdom – Immigration Changes for Autumn 2016 and Spring 2017

What has changed

The Home Office has announced a number of changes to Tier 2 Sponsorship in the United Kingdom (UK), which will have an impact on the way UK Sponsors employ workers from outside the European Economic Area (EEA). The first of these changes is due to take effect in Autumn 2016 and the second group of changes in April 2017. Changes that are to be implemented in April this year have already been announced here.

Who is affected?

  • All employers sponsoring migrants under the Points Based System

What to expect

Changes to take place in Autumn 2016

Tier 2 (General) category

The government will:

  • Increase the Tier 2 (General) minimum salary threshold to £25,000 for experienced workers, maintaining the minimum threshold of £20,800 for new entrants.
  • Introduce exemptions from the increased Tier 2 (General) experienced threshold mentioned above for nurses, medical radiographers, paramedics and secondary school teachers in mathematics, physics, chemistry, computer science, and Mandarin. The exemption will end in July 2019.
  • Weigh overseas graduates more heavily in the Tier 2 (General) monthly allocation rounds, giving them a higher chance of gaining a Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship.

Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) category

The government will:

  • Increase the salary threshold from £24,800 to £30,000 for the Tier 2 Intra-company Transfer (ICT) Short Term category.
  • Reduce the salary requirement for the Tier 2 (Graduate Trainee) category from £24,800 to £23,000
  • Increase the number of places of Tier 2 (Graduate Trainee) available to companies from five (5) to twenty (20) per year.
  • Close the Tier 2 (ICT) Skills Transfer category to new applications.
  • Remove the Immigration Health Surcharge exemption for the Tier 2 (ICT) category.
  • Enable graduates to switch roles once they secure a permanent job.

Changes to take place in April 2017

Tier 2 (General) category

The government will:

  • Increase the Tier 2 (General) threshold to £30,000 for experienced workers.
  • Introduce a waiver for the Resident Labour Market Test and prioritise Tier 2 (General) places where the visa grant(s) are in support of the relocation of a high-value business to the UK or, potentially, an inward investment project.

Tier 2 (ICT) category

The government will:

  • Close the Tier 2 (ICT) Short Term category to new applications.
  • Reduce the high-earners’ salary for Long-Term ICTs from £155,300 to £120,000.
  • Remove the one (1) year experience requirement in the Long-Term category where the applicant is earning over £73,900.
  • Implement any recommendations resulting from the review of allowances under the Tier 2 (ICT) categories.

All categories

The government will:

  • Introduce the Immigration Skills Charge (ISC). The ISC will be levied on Tier 2 employers at a rate of £1,000 per person per year from April 2017, with a rate of £364 for smaller businesses and charities, and an exemption for PhD occupations, Tier 2 (ICT) Graduate Trainees, and Tier 4 students switching to Tier 2.

Points Based System Dependants

The government will not be introducing restrictions to Points Based System dependents’ working rights in the United Kingdom.


Nurses will remain on the Shortage Occupation List, but sponsors will need to carry out a Resident Labour Market Test before recruiting a non-EEA nurse.

What you need to do
Planning ahead

  • Emigra Worldwide will work with clients throughout the year to ensure that they are ready for the changes
  • Contact your Emigra Worldwide attorney or representative for further details on how these updates may impact you or your client.

The information above was provided by Emigra Worldwide, our global network partners, and relevant government authorities. The information herein is for general purposes only and not intended as advice for a particular matter. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the global immigration professional with whom you work.