Home Office Statement of Intent: Codes of Practice for skilled workers

On Friday 1 March 2013, the Home Office published a Statement of Intent setting out changes that are being made to the Codes of Practice for skilled workers. The changes which will be implemented on 6 April 2013 will also affect the timing of applications for restricted certificates of sponsorship in March and April.

The Home Office state that the changes are being made to update the system and make it more user friendly rather than change the policy significantly.

The Codes of Practice are primarily used in Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer) categories, but can also play a role in some parts of Tier 5, Post Study Workers switching into Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) and work permit holders applying for settlement.

The Government commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to review the Codes of Practice, who, in turn, published a detailed report on 17 October 2012. The Statement of Intent is the Government’s response to the recommendations set out by MAC.

Changes to the lists of skilled occupations

MAC recommended an updated list of occupations skilled to NQF Level 6 using a new SOC 2010 system. The list does not make any changes to the minimum skill threshold which remains at NQF Level 6. MAC recommended that the Government release an updated list of PhD-level occupations. Workers in these extremely high skilled occupations have a higher priority under the Tier 2 limit, a lighter Resident Labour Market Test and are exempt from the £35,000 earnings threshold for settlement applications (which will apply from April 2016). The Codes of Practice will now be presented in a single document rather than split by industry.

Changes to salary requirements

The minimum salary thresholds across Tier 2 have been unchanged since April 2011 and will, therefore, be increased in line with wage inflation.

Category

 

Criteria

Current Threshold

New Threshold

Tier 2 (General)

Jobs which qualify for Tier 2 (General)

£20,000

£20,300

Tier 2 (General)

Jobs which are exempt from advertising in JobCentre Plus (or JobCentre Online if the job is based in Northern Ireland)

£70,000

£71,000

Tier 2 (General)

Jobs which are exempt from the annual limit and the Resident Labour Market Test

£150,000

£152,100

Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer)

Jobs which qualify for the Short Term Staff, Skills Transfer of Graduate Trainee categories (maximum stay either six months or one year)

£24,000

£24,300

Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer)

 

Jobs which qualify for the Long Term Staff category (maximum stay five years)

£40,000

£40,600

Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer)

Workers who can extend their stay in the UK for up to nine years

£150,000

£152,100

Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (Sportsperson)

Earnings which qualify for settlement (those working in PhD-level or shortage occupations are exempt)

£35,000 (for settlement application made on or after 6 April 2016)

£35,500 (for settlement applications made on or after 6 April 2018)

The minimum appropriate rates for skilled workers in each occupation are being simplified and updated to reflect changes in pay for settled workers.

Changes to the way the Resident Labour Market Test (“RLMT”) is conducted

The Government has accepted the MAC’s recommendations that:

- The current rules on the content of job advertisements should remain unchanged;

- Advertisements should be written in English (or Welsh for appropriate vacancies in Wales) and advertised for the current 28 days;

- The current prescriptive lists of specified publications (currently found in each Code of Practice) be replaced with a set of simple criteria for identifying suitable media.

These changes simplify the RLMT requirement, and provide an overarching RLMT for all roles regardless of the code of practice.

The Government has retained the requirement to advertise using the Job Centre Plus (or Universal Jobmatch) service, for all roles under £71,000 (previously £70,000). The new criteria will allow the RLMT to be carried out by advertising in any one of the following media in addition to Jobcentre Plus online service;

Newspaper – Must be marketed throughout the UK or throughout the whole of the devolved nation in which the job is located; and published at least once a week;

Professional Journals – Must be available nationally through retail outlets or through subscription, published at least once a month, and related to the nature of the job; and

Websites – Must be one of the following:-

- An online version of a newspaper or professional journal which would satisfy the criteria above; or

- The website of a prominent professional or recruitment organisation, which does not charge a fee to jobseekers to view job advertisements or to apply for jobs via those advertisements; or;

- If the Sponsor is a multinational organisation or has over 250 permanent employees in the UK, the Sponsors own website.

If the RLMT is required, advertising must be placed in at least two medium’s, therefore if the role is exempt from the Jobcentre plus requirement, then two other medium’s must be selected, they can both be, for example, websites.

The milkround provision for graduate recruitment is being retained and if the Sponsor carries out the RLMT in this way then they will need to visit at least three UK universities, advertise in one of the listed websites (i.e jobs.ac.uk; milkround.com), and advertise in at least one other medium specified for the RLMT.

Transitional Arrangements / Future Changes

If a Sponsor assigns a Certificate of Sponsorship before 6 April 2013, the old Codes of Practice will apply. The date the individual makes the application is therefore irrelevant (assuming the certificate is used within 3 months).

The timing for the restricted certificate of sponsorship allocation is being amended for April 2013, therefore requests must be made between 6 April and 17 April 2013, with decisions made on 19 April 2013.

The Home Office intends to update the appropriate salary rates for occupations and overall minimum salary on an annual basis going forward.

The full Statement of Intent can be found at:

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/immigration/soi-cop-skilled-workers