During Prime Minister’s Questions on 10th June 2015, David Cameron announced that further changes to the immigration rules would be introduced to limit the scope for businesses to employ workers from outside of the European Economic Area (“EEA”).
With an apparent focus on the tier 2 sponsored worker category, it was announced that the Home Secretary, Theresa May, has asked the Migration Advisory Committee (“MAC”) to consider proposals to:
- further reduce the number of work visas available;
- increase the minimum salary thresholds for sponsored workers;
- introduce a new “skills levy” for businesses who recruit foreign workers, to be spent on UK apprenticeships; and
- place time limits on the period during which a role will be classed as a “shortage occupation”.
The Government expects the changes to be introduced by the end of this year.
The proposals have been criticised by groups representing UK business as a penalty on employers.
The announcement comes after it was confirmed earlier this month that Mr Cameron will personally lead the Government’s new Immigration Task Force, whose primary objectives include developing policies to reduce net migration to the tens of thousands.
Other significant changes to the immigration rules were introduced in April 2015, including:
- a £200 per person, per annum NHS surcharge, payable by most non-EEA workers (and their dependents) coming to the UK for more than 6 months;
- an increase in the minimum salary thresholds for sponsored workers;
- an exemption from the 12 month “cooling off” period for workers granted leave for three months or less under tier 2;
- the removal of several job titles from the MAC’s shortage occupation list, and the introduction of some others;
- the expansion of the tier 1 (entrepreneur) “genuine entrepreneur” test; and
- changes to the list of accredited English Language test providers.
For more information about recent and upcoming changes to the business immigration rules, please contact: