Immigration Update: UKBA accepts MAC recommendations and SOC codes updated 6 April

6 March 2013

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

On 4 March, the UK Border Agency (UKBA) published its latest Statement of Intent, accepting the Migration Advisory Committee's (MAC) recommendations on changes to appropriate salary rates for occupations, which will come into effect on 6 April. Click here for a link to the Statement. The main changes are as follows:

As now, pay thresholds for experienced workers should be set at the 25th percentile (which allows for regional and industry variation in salaries without over-complicating 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 will mean any extension applications which 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. 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;
  • Those sponsored in the Intra-Company Transfer Graduate Trainee route; and
  • Anyone aged 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 3 years and 1 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 which are exempt from advertising in Jobcentre Plus up from £70,000 to £71,000
  • Tier 2 (General) jobs which 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 which qualify for settlement up from £35,000 for settlement applications made on or after 6th April 2016 to £35,500 for settlement applications made on or after 6th April 2018

SOC Codes to be Updated on 6 April

The Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes for Tier 2 will be updated from SOC 2000 to SOC 2010 on 6 April. This will result in many of the job titles and SOC numbers changing. However, to make the transition easier for sponsors the UKBA has helpfully provided a comparison between the two at Annex C, page 31 of the Statement of Intent. From a practical perspective, the change over to SOC 2010 will have implications for the assigning of Certificates of sponsorship as follows:

  • Any unrestricted certificates of sponsorship prepared before 6 April but not assigned will need to have the ‘job type’ field amended and an appropriate SOC 2010 job type selected;
  • Any restricted certificates of sponsorship (RCoS) granted will need to be assigned prior to 6 April as the ‘job type’ field cannot be amended to the new SOC 2010; if it cannot be assigned a new application for a RCoS will need to be submitted;
  • During the transitional phase the timings of the monthly allocation for RCoS will need to change for March, April and May; rather than accepting applications from 6 March to 5 April to be decided on 11 April, the UKBA will accept applications from 6 April to 17 April and decisions on these applications will be made on 19 April. Applications for the May allocation of RCoS will be accepted from 18 April to 5 May and the decision will be made on 13 May. The monthly allocation process for June will revert to the usual schedule; and
  • If an RCoS is required urgently between 6 March and 18 April, an application must be submitted through SMS and exceptional consideration requested by email to Tier2Limits@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk. This email must be forwarded to the UKBA on the same day as the application for an RCoS is submitted.

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