Tier 2 (General) Visa to be Replaced by Skilled Worker Route
The United Kingdom will open a new points-based immigration system for UK Work Visas from the 1st December, leading to the rebranding of the Tier 2 (General) Visa.
The Tier 2 (General) Visa will be replaced by the ‘Skilled Worker Route’, bringing in the biggest shake-up of sponsored migration since the implementation of the current points-based system twelve years ago.
Freedom of movement will end for EEA nationals on 31st December 2020, meaning that both EEA nationals and non-EEA nationals will need to apply for a Skilled Workers Visa to work in the UK.
The new Skilled Workers Visa is still a sponsorship visa, just like the Tier 2 (General) Visa. Applicants will still need to be assigned a certificate of sponsorship less than three months old when they apply for the visa and they will still need to pay the immigration health surcharge too.
However, the UK employer will not need to undertake a Resident Labour Market Test before offering the position to overseas nationals.
New Rules Around Switching
One of the biggest changes in the new skilled workers route is around switching. You can switch to this visa from any UK visa, apart from those here as:
- A visitor
- A short-term student or a parent of a child student
- A seasonal worker
- A domestic worker in a private household
Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa holders who previously could not switch to a Tier 2 (General) Visa, can switch to the Skilled Workers Visa under the new rules.
Skilled Worker Route Eligibility
The eligibility criteria for the Skilled Worker Visa offers more flexibility than the Tier 2 (General) Visa. The new criteria enables applicants with different qualifications, salaries and skills to accrue points.
The employer must match the role to a standard occupational code (SOC). The minimum skill level will drop from RQF level 6 (degree level) to RQF level 3 (school leaver level), which will broaden the range of job roles which can be sponsored.
An applicant must score 50 points to be eligible for the Skilled Workers Visa. An applicant can meet the mandatory minimum points through:
- A certificate of sponsorship from a UK employer: 20 points
- Job at appropriate skill level: 20 points
- English language skills at B1 level: 10 points
In addition to this, an applicant will need to score a further 20 points through their salary. These are known as tradeable points because there are a number of different methods to earn these 20 points.
- Applicant’s salary is equal to or exceeds both £25,600 and the ‘going rate’ for the job’s SOC code
- The applicant has a PhD in a subject relevant to the job and their salary equals or exceeds both £23,040 and 90% of the going rate for the SOC code
- The applicant has a PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the job and the applicant’s salary equals or exceeds both £20,480 and 80% of the going rate for the SOC code
- The job is in a shortage occupation and the applicant’s salary equals or exceeds both £20,480 and 80% of the going rate for the SOC code
- The applicant is a new entrant to the labour market and their salary equals or exceeds £20,480 and 70% of the going rate for the SOC code
- The job is in a listed health or education occupation and the applicant’s salary is equal to or exceeds £20.480 and the going rate for the SOC code
What are the Other Changes?
There will be changes to the eligibility criteria beyond the job itself to, relating to the circumstances of the applicant.
There are more stringent rules around criminal records and the providing of evidence. More SOC codes will require an applicant to undergo a criminal records check. This needs to be completed for each country where the applicant has spent more than 12 months in the previous ten years before the application.
One of the major changes in the new Skilled Worker Visa is that there is now no limit on the amount of time that a person can spend in the UK under the new UK Work Visa. An individual will be able to stay for a maximum of five years initially, and then they can apply for unlimited extensions.
Also, the cooling-off period, which prevented people from applying for another Tier 2 visa until 12 months after they left the UK or switched to another visa, will be scrapped.
In terms of settlement, an applicant will still need to be employed by the sponsor for the ‘foreseeable future’ to be eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain status.
However, the minimum income threshold has been reduced for settlement eligibility. The new general provision is that the person must be earning at least £25,600 and the going rate for the job, rather than the current threshold of £35,800.
If the person is working in a shortage occupation, they will need to be paid above £20,480 and the going rate for the job.
Do you Need Immigration Advice?
If you want to apply for a UK work visa or you are currently working in the UK and need immigration legal advice, Birmingham Immigration Lawyers is here for you.
We can help you to secure your status in the UK, whether you are an EEA national or non-EEA national.
Call us now on 0121 667 6530 to find out more.