Rebranding Tier 2 (General) Visa into ‘Skilled Worker’ Route
The New Statement of Changes has brought significant changes to the Immigration System, and probably it is the most comprehensive since the July 2012 changes when the minimum income threshold for families wanting to come to the UK has been introduced. The new changes which are due to take place on 01 December 2020, has much to do with the old Points Based System and in particular, Tier 2 (General) and the way migrants, including those from the EU will be sponsored for the years to come.
The “Skilled Worker Route” is due to replace the existing Tier 2 (General) visa route, which will subsequently close on 01 December 2020. The Government has divided the new rules for the Skilled Worker Route into Validity, Eligibility, Suitability, Financial, and Criminal Record Requirements. This blog will focus on each division set by the Government.
Foreign-based nationals would now be able to Switch in-country into the Skilled Worker category from any other route, (which they have been initially granted), with the exception of those who are in the UK as a –
- Short-term student; or
- Parent of a Child Student; or
- Domestic Worker in a Private Household; or
- Seasonal Worker; or
- outside the Immigration Rules
It is good news for those who are already in the UK on a temporary visa (for example – Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa Holders) as they will now be able to access the Skilled Worker Visa from without any burdens.
- Suitability Criteria
Part 9 of the Immigration Rules will apply, and particular changes have been made to criminality and violation of immigration laws at any time while in the UK.
- Eligibility Criteria
The new system continues to use the scoring points with a minimum of 70 points being required to be able to succeed on the Skilled Worker visa.
Anyone who wants to come to the UK to work will need to verify that:
- They have a job offer from a Home Office licensed sponsor
- The job offer is at the required skill level – 3 of RQF (Regulated Qualifications Framework) or above (A-Level and equivalent).
- They can prove their level of English language required
In addition, the employment offer needs to meet the acceptable minimum salary threshold. It should be between £23,040 to £25,599 or more.
An applicant can trade these characteristics also, for suppose – they can get points with their qualifications, against a lower salary to get the mandatory number of points.
If the employment offer is less than the minimum salary requirement, but not less than £20,480, an applicant can still be eligible if they have:
- An employment offer in a specific shortage occupation (Find the list on UK government website)
- A Ph.D. which is suitable for the job
- A Ph.D. in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) subject appropriate to the job
Job Offer and a valid Certificate of Sponsorship (20 Points – Mandatory)
To get 20 points, an applicant must have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from a Tier 2 Sponsor Licences employer.
Receiving an appropriate salary (20 Points – Mandatory)
You must have a job offer that pays the appropriate salary. The job should be paying a salary that meets the acceptable minimum salary threshold between £23,040 to £25,599 or more. The way the salary structure works has been discussed in great details here
It is mandatory to earn at least more than £23,040 to get 10 points and if you are going to earn more than £25,600 then you will get 20 points.
If you are going to earn less than this- but not less than £20,480, you will still be eligible for applying by trading points with other characteristics.
English language Requirements (10 Points -Mandatory)
You will need to show that you speak the relevant level of English (based on the job you will do), and demonstrate the same through documentation, such as a degree taught in English, or an English language test, or GCSE or A level certificates or Scottish Highers certificate.
You don’t have to verify your knowledge of English if you are from:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Malta (newly added)
- New Zealand
- St Kitts and Nevis
- St Lucia
- St Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
Job in a shortage occupation list (20 Points- Tradeable)
If your employer is providing you with a job that comes under a shortage of workers list (Designated by Migration Advisory Committee), then you can get 20 points even if you are not meeting salary requirements.
You can also trade points through your education qualifications, like if you are a PhD student especially from STEM then you can get 10(for PhD relevant to the job) and 20 points (for PhD in STEM).
An applicant will have to show funds that are equal to £1270 for 28 days as at the date of application unless your employer has mentioned it on the certificate of sponsorship.
If the applicant has held permission to stay in the UK for more than 12 months then they do not have to meet this requirement.
Period of Grant
There is no cap on the time spent in the UK under the Skilled Worker route. If under Tier 2 (General) workers could only spend a maximum of six years in the UK in the new category applicants can stay on the visa for as long as they continue to meet the rules.
The cooling-off period has also been abolished.
New Entrants under the Skilled Worker Route
These new entrants will have to fulfil the lower minimum salary requirement of 70% of the going rate for their occupation code or GBP 20,480, whichever is high.
Intra Company Transfers (ICT) visa route
ICT workers will be allowed to switch into the skilled worker’s route if they are eligible. From January 2021, an overseas intra-company transferee cannot hold an ICT visa for more than five years in any six years, except where they qualify to be granted up to nine years based on their salary.
The high earner threshold will be lessened from GBP 120,000 to GBP 73,900. This will allow qualified applicants to hold the ICT visa for up to nine years in any 10-year rolling period. They will also be free from the provision to work for the overseas business for twelve months before entering. The ICT visa route would not lead to settlement but it will be possible to transfer to the skilled worker category, moving a path to settlement.
This Statement of Changes is a positive step taken by the UK government. Through this, the government has discontinued several disturbing and unnecessary rules that used to restrict sponsored immigrants. It will clearly make the system more simple, as the jobs that can be sponsored are now wider and more inclusive.