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UNITED KINGDOM: UK Border Agency Accepts Migration Advisory Committee Recommendations on Changes to Appropriate Salary Rates for Occupations

On March 4, 2013, the UKBA published its latest Statement of Intent, accepting the Migration Advisory Committee's (MAC) recommendations on changes to appropriate salary rates for occupations effective April 6. The main changes are:

  • Pay thresholds for experienced workers should be set at the 25th percentile (which allows for regional and industry variation in salaries without overcomplicating the system) for full-time employees in each occupation, using the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE);
  • A new, lower pay threshold for new entrant employees should be set at the 10th percentile of the pay distribution for full-time employees in that occupation;
  • New entrants should be subject to the 25th percentile threshold when applying for leave to remain after three years (in practice this means that any extension applications that take the migrant's stay in Tier 2 and/or the work permit arrangements beyond three years, including settlement applications); and
  • For some occupations (such as those in the health and education sectors, part-qualified architects, and barristers undertaking pupillages), the appropriate rates should use "bespoke" pay scales rather than "new entrant" and "experienced" rates. ["Bespoke" in this context means tailored to the broader spectrum of the occupation as opposed to falling into "new entrant" or "experienced" rates.] These occupations will not be subject to the above rules on pay progression.
New entrant employees are defined as:
  • Graduates switching from Tier 4 into Tier 2 under UKBA post-study provisions;
  • Graduate recruits where the employer has used a university "milkround" to satisfy the Resident Labour Market Test ["milkround" refers to employers in the UK visiting university career fairs to promote their companies and advertise open positions to prospective graduates];
  • Those sponsored in the Intra-Company Transfer Graduate Trainee route; and
  • Anyone age 25 or under on the date of their initial Tier 2 application (analysis shows that workers normally reach the 25th percentile by age 26).

In all cases, applicants will not be classed as new entrant employees if they are applying to extend their total stay in Tier 2 and/or as a work permit holder beyond three years and one month (the maximum grant for initial Tier 2 applications). This is a slight change from the definition proposed by the MAC, which referred to the number of years since leaving full-time education. This would have required employers and the UKBA to see and verify an applicant's educational history. It may also not always be clear when an applicant left full-time education.

Minimum rates of pay will be increased across the Tier 2 categories as follows:

  • Tier 2 (General), up from £20,000 to £20,300
  • Tier 2 (General) jobs that are exempt from advertising in Jobcentre Plus, up from £70,000 to £71,000
  • Tier 2 (General) jobs that are exempt from the annual limit and the Resident Labour Market Test, up from £150,000 to £152,100
  • Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) Short-Term Staff, Skills Transfer, or Graduate Trainee, up from £24,000 to £24,300
  • Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) Long-Term Staff, up from £40,000 to £40,600
  • Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) for workers who can extent their stay in the UK for up to nine years, up from £150,000 to £152,100; and

Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (Sportsperson) earnings that qualify for settlement, up from £35,000 for settlement applications made on or after April 6, 2016, and £35,500 for settlement applications made on or after April 6, 2018.

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