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Changes to rules for employing non-EEA migrant workers

Monday 10th April 2017

Changes to rules for employing non-EEA migrant workers

New immigration ruling from 6 April 2017 sees changes affecting licenced employers sponsoring migrants from outside of the EU under Tier 2 (General). These are key reforms within the Immigration Act 2016.

Immigration Skills Charge

An introduction of an Immigration Skills Charge means employers wishing to sponsor non-EEA workers in the UK will have to pay a £1,000 per year (or £364 for small sponsors) for each year of sponsorship. The Home Office will use this money to address the current skills gap in the UK workforce.

This skills charge is payable upfront covering total period of Certificate of Sponsorship. It applies to new workers employed on a Tier 2 General Visa but does not apply to non EEA nationals sponsored in Tier 2 before 6 April 2017 or extending from within the UK.

Therefore, an initial 3 year certificate of sponsorship assigned to a migrant worker will incur a further £3,000 to the cost of sponsorship.

Overseas Criminal Record Certificates

The Government has extended the requirement to provide a criminal record certificate to Tier 2 visa applicants coming to work in education, health and social care sectors and to their adult dependants. This has been introduced to strengthen safeguards against those with a criminal history seeking to come to the UK.

Tier 2 migrant workers must provide a criminal record certificate if working in Education for any country they have lived in for 12 months or more in the past 10 years. The migrant’s adult dependants are also subject to this requirement. This requirement will not affect those who applied for a visa before 6 April 2017.

It is the sponsor’s responsibility to notify their prospective employee of the new requirement. Visa applications may be refused if the applicant does not provide the appropriate criminal records certificates.

Minimum Salary Threshold Increases

The minimum salary threshold for experienced Tier 2 workers has increased to £30,000 per year (from £25,000), subject to a few exemptions*. Migrants granted leave to remain or assigned a certificate of sponsorship prior to 24 November 2016 will remain subject to the £20,800 threshold if they apply for an extension. Those initially granted leave with a certificate of sponsorship assigned after 24 November 2016 will be subject to the £30,000 threshold if they apply for an extension.


The minimum salary threshold for new entrants remains at £20,800 per annum.

  • A Resident Labour Market Test will be required including Milkround unless migrant worker is under the age of 26 or switching from Tier 4 to Tier 2
  • Or the migrant is changing to Tier 2 from another immigration category 

Temporary exemption until 1 July 2019 for public service occupations which includes secondary education teaching professionals – subject teachers in maths, physics, chemistry, computer science and Mandarin only.

  • Unqualified teachers undertaking Overseas Trained Teachers Programme and equivalent subject to £20,800 minimum salary
  • Qualified teachers and equivalent are subject to £21,804 minimum salary

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