The Skilled Migrant tier (Tier 2) is aimed at enabling UK employers to recruit individuals from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) to fill a particular job that cannot be filled by a British or EEA workers. It came into force in 2008. Employers across Tier 2 are only able to bring in migrant workers if they have a sponsorship licence issued by the UK Border Agency.
The following immigration categories were replaced when the Skilled Migrant Tier 2 was introduced:
Everyone wanting to come to the UK under PBS need prior entry clearance, for which they are not allowed to apply without a Certificate of Sponsorship. However, a sponsorship certificate in no way guarantees that entry clearance will be issued.
In addition to the general arrangements, Tier 2 Skilled Workers also include two further categories - Sports People and Ministers of Religion.
As with the other tiers, an applicant wanting to come to the UK under this Tier needs to show that he or she has enough points to qualify. Tier 2 has an overall pass mark of 70 points and contains three sections:
i) Offer of job in shortage occupation - 50
ii) Offer of job that passes Resident Labour Market Test - 30
iii) Intra Company Transfer – 30
No qualifications - 0
NVQ3 - 5
Bachelors or Masters - 10
PhD – 15
£17,000 – £19,999 - 5
£20,000 – £21,999 - 10
£22,000 – £23,999 - 15
£24,000 + 20
By June 2008 the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) is to produce shortage occupation lists for the UK and a separate list for Scotland only. These lists will comprise skilled occupations where there are shortages that can be filled from outside the European Economic Area (EEA).
Where a migrant is applying to enter the UK to fill a job from this list, they will receive sufficient points to proceed without reference to their prospective earnings or qualifications.
It may be necessary for an employer to recruit a migrant from outside the EEA to fill a particular job that cannot be filled by a British or EEA worker and is not on the shortage occupation list. This will only be possible if the employer is able to show that there is no suitably qualified worker from the UK or EEA available to fill the vacancy.
To do this the employer must have advertised the job for at least 2 weeks. This measure ensures that resident workers will first have the opportunity to apply for a job before a migrant is recruited. If the prospective earnings for the job are over £40,000 then the job has to be advertised for a minimum period of one week.
Intra Company Transfers, allow employees of multinational companies to be transferred to a skilled post in a UK-based branch of the company. There is no requirement to meet the Resident Labour Market Test. Migrants must have been working overseas for the sponsoring company for at least 6 months, and while in the UK must earn a salary appropriate for that job in the UK.
Whether the job is a shortage occupation, has passed the resident labour market test or is an Intra Company Transfer, it must be above the minimum skill level and be paid at the appropriate rate for that job in the UK labour market.
A job must be at NVQ3 level or above to be considered for this part of the tier. In order to avoid confusion as to what jobs are at this level, and for those which are borderline, the UK Border Agency will publish a list of occupations at or above NVQ level 3 and those which fall below this standard.
Migrants entering under the skilled worker part of Tier 2 (shortage occupations and resident labour market test) are required to speak English to a basic user standard. This includes an ability to understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases, to introduce themselves and others and ask and answer questions about basic personal details. Intra Company Transferees are only required to demonstrate the required English language ability if they wish to stay beyond three years.
Initially, out of country applicants have to show they have £800 before they enter the UK and a further 2/3 of £800 for each dependant they intend to bring with them. These funds are intended to support the applicant and his/her family until he/she starts receiving a salary.
This sub-category is for elite sportspeople and coaches who are internationally established at the highest level, whose employment will make a significant contribution to the development of their sport at the highest level in the UK and who intend to base themselves in the UK. Points will be awarded against three sets of objective criteria with an overall pass-mark of 70 points:
Certificate of Sponsorship – 50
Maintenance – 10
English - 10
Migrants under this sub-category need to be sponsored by a club (or equivalent) licensed by the UK Border Agency in order to issue Certificates of Sponsorship under this category. Applications for a licence to issue a Certificate of Sponsorship under this sub-category must be accompanied by approval from the relevant Governing Body for the sport. A Governing Body is one that is recognised by one of the Home Sports Councils (e.g. Sports England). Where a sport does not have a governing body as recognised by the Home Country Sports Councils, the UK Border Agency will request advice from the sports councils and other relevant sporting bodies as to whether there is an appropriate body.
This category is for those coming to fill vacancies as religious workers with recognised religions. This includes anyone who preaches to their community and/or performs a pastoral role. Tier 5 covers migrants coming to work temporarily in the UK as a religious worker in a non-pastoral role, where the duties include performing religious rites but not preaching to a congregation.
Points under T2 Sportspeople – Pass-mark 70
Points will be earned against three sets of objective criteria with an overall pass-mark of 70 points:
Certificate of Sponsorship - 50
Maintenance - 10
English - 10
Religious institutions (sponsors) wishing to recruit religious workers will need to provide evidence that they are a bona fide religious institution. The sponsor must ensure the migrant will be filling a genuine vacancy that cannot be filled with a suitably qualified member of the resident labour force. The job must be advertised for at least two weeks.
Migrants will be required to meet a level of English equivalent to the Council of Europe level B2 because of the need to effectively communicate with worshippers. This is approximately the same level that those seeking entry as ministers of religion must demonstrate under the current rules. They will also be expected to show maintenance funds of £800 plus additional funds for any dependants.
There will be a single application process, whether in or outside the UK. All applicants will provide documentary evidence (to be specified in guidance available before implementation) to support their claim for points.
Section 4 of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 removes the full right of appeal for those applying from abroad to come to the UK under the points system (except where the appeal is brought on Human Rights or Race Discrimination grounds). The legislation will take effect as each points system tier is implemented. Applicants are able to seek one Administrative Review per application if they feel an error has been made in their decision.
Applications made from within the UK retain a full right of appeal.