Migration Advisory Committee report
The ICT sector is one of the top users of the current Tier 2 system, which allows companies to apply to the Home Office for a sponsor licence to hire skilled workers from outside the EU. According to the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) programmers and software developers make up 7% of all roles filled via the Resident Labour Market Test, and IT related jobs make up 75% of short term intra company transfers, and 48% of long term transfers.
With these high numbers, and the UK Government committed to reducing net migration, the industry should be braced for changes in the coming months.
The MAC report into reform of the Tier 2 route recently published its findings, and the most important suggestions for the software and digital technology industry are:
- Increasing the minimum salary requirements for all roles so that the minimum salary for any role is £30,000 a year. A number of software and technology roles are currently listed below this salary, for example the minimum salary for web design and development professionals is £23,400 so these salaries will increase.
- Applying a skills surcharge to companies that recruit from abroad. The figure of £1,000 a year has been suggested and it would apply to all Tier 2 applications.
- Introducing a new Intra Company Transfer route for servicing third party contracts.
- The Home Office has traditionally implemented suggestions of the MAC, and, with changes to the Immigration Rules expected as early as April, we could see the Tier 2 framework substantially change in the coming months.
We will be running a free seminar on 24 February 2016 which will address these proposals in detail. This is a practically based seminar which will look at:
- How to make the most out of a sponsor licence;
- Alternatives to Tier 2;
- Preparing for a Home Office audit
If you would like to register your interest for this seminar please click here.
Post Study Work visas
There continue to be calls for the reintroduction of a Post Study Work visa for Scotland and these are supported by the Scottish Government.
Following the Scottish Government's working group report on Post Study Work Visas, the Scottish Affairs Committee at Westminster has set up an inquiry to look into the issue. I was invited to appear before the Committee in London on 9 December and highlighted the potential benefits of a Post Study Work scheme setting out that it would be of great benefit to the software and digital technology industry.
With the drive to cut net migration to the UK, reintroducing a Post Study Work visa may not be easy but it remains a possibility in 2016.