We now have a timescale for many of these changes so the key dates for your diary are as follows:
24 November 2016
The first set of changes, described by the Home Office as the "Autumn 2016 changes", will come into force on 24 November 2016. These include:
An increase in the minimum salary threshold for experienced Tier 2 workers to £25,000 a year. This will only have a small impact on the digital technology sector as most roles already involve a higher minimum salary;
An increased salary threshold for Tier 2 (Intra Company Transferees) which is likely to affect those businesses with offices or joint ventures abroad.
- A change to the Restricted CoS allocation system to prioritise graduate hires from abroad. This is potentially good news for the sector as it looks to bring key skills from overseas to fill the existing skills gap.
Another significant change, coming into force in November 2016, is the introduction of a priority service update for certain Sponsor Management functions such as CoS requests and adding Level 1 users. Previously these requests could take up to 18 weeks unless the business was willing to pay at least £8,000 a year to become a premium sponsor, but now one off priority services will be available for £200.
The Home Office have not yet confirmed when the Immigration Health Surcharge will apply to Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfers) but this is likely to come into force in the next few weeks.
6 April 2017
6 April 2017 will see the introduction of the Immigration Skills Charge for Tier 2 visas. This charge will be the equivalent of £1,000 per year for each sponsored worker and will need to be paid up front. Small businesses and charities will benefit from a reduced rate of £364 per year but the costs will still be significant, for example:
Large Business: A 3 year assignment currently costs £199 for the Certificate of Sponsorship. From 6 April 2017 it will cost £3,199.
Small Business: A 3 year assignment currently costs £199 for the Certificate of Sponsorship. From 6 April 2017 it will cost £1,291.
The Home Office have not said how a "small business" will be defined but it is likely to cover small and medium sized enterprises under the Companies Act.
What else can we expect?
Predictions are never easy, for example in November 2015 how many people thought we'd be looking at a future with the UK exiting the EU and negotiating a trade deal with President Trump! Despite this, there are some educated guesses we can make about the future for UK immigration law.
The headline news during the Conservative party conference was the plan to require businesses to provide the Home Office with a list of overseas workers, and while this seems to have been withdrawn other comments during the conference give an indication of future changes.