New immigration skills charge makes it harder for non-UK citizens to find work

The Immigration Act of 2016 was updated on 12 July 2016 to introduce an immigration skills charge which will discourage UK companies from hiring foreign citizens. The Tory-led UK government has repeatedly claimed it is presently too easy for UK employers to hire non-UK citizens.

immigration skills charge

The previous Minister for Immigration and Security, James Brokenshire, had some emphatic words concerning migrant workers and their fate in the UK: “In the past it has been too easy for some businesses to bring in workers from overseas rather than to take the long-term decision to train our workforce here at home.”

The UK government plans to effect these changes through an immigration skills charge.

What the immigration skills charge means for you

This additional levy has been designed to encourage employers to invest in training and upskilling the resident labour force. It is the government’s hope that this will ultimately lead to a reduction on the reliance of migrant labour.

Employers will be required to pay £1,000 per year for each Tier 2 migrant they sponsor. There is a reduced rate of £364 per migrant for small and charitable sponsors, but the majority companies hiring Tier 2 applicants will fall outside of this category.

PhD-level graduates on a Tier 4 (General) student visa is that their sponsors will not be required to pay the additional £1000 per year when they switch to a Tier 2 visa. The same applies to those switching to the Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) visa.

Employers can also escape the immigration skills charge if the non-resident worker has a skillset that cannot be filled by a British person. This will likely be an extension of the Shortage Occupations List.

Provisions like this have been a long time coming

For many months, and especially leading up to the EU referendum vote in June, the British political right have been bemoaning the negative effects of immigration on the UK’s economy. Non-EU migrants have been particularly singled out.

The government is hoping is that this will give jobs to more British people as well as lessen the tax burden created by supporting immigrants that arrive on England’s shores every year.

Theresa May cometh

On July 12 Theresa May was confirmed as Prime Minister of the UK and leader of the conservative party. As Home Secretary she was candid about her desire to curb immigration into the UK. May has regularly supported measures unpopular with non-UK citizens.

Last year she earned the ire of many spouses of British citizens when she backed stricter financial requirements for the granting UK spouse visas.

UK businesses uneasy with new provisions

While these measures have been suggested to help fund domestic apprenticeships and skills education, they are causing some worry in expat communities in the UK. On top of this, UK employers may contest these provisions as they will make it less appealing and more costly for businesses to sponsor overseas employees.

Apply for a Tier 2 visa now before these new regulations come into effect. If you’re unsure of what visa you should apply please send us an email or give 1st Contact Visas call on 0800 003 163 (in South Africa), 1800 039 300 (in Australia), 0808 141 1664 (in the United Kingdom).

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  • Alex Horsler

    How does this affect people immigrating on an ancestral visa?

    • 1st Contact

      Hi Alex,
      This will only effect Tier 2 and Tier 4 visas

      • Roro Roro

        When will this new law take effect?

        • 1st Contact

          Hi Roro, this is only likely to come into effect after April next year.

  • Heather Stip

    Not at all, Alex. It affects Tier 2 visas.

  • Mila Iakubenko

    Will it apply to new applications only or existing immigrants too?

  • Roro Roro

    When will this new law for Tier 2 and Tier 4 take effect?

    • 1st Contact

      Hi Roro,

      Unfortunately no date has been set as yet.

      • Roro Roro

        Hi Mr Dunn,
        If a person completes N3 Electrical Engineering at a college and wants to apply for a Tier 2 Visa so that he can go over to the UK to look for a job will this suffice or must he get a job offer from a UK company before he can apply for the Tier 2 Visa?
        The second option will be almost impossible as companies normally want face to face interviews.

        • 1st Contact

          Hi Roro Roro,

          One would need the job offer and the certificate of sponsorship before being able to apply for the Tier 2 visa.

  • Cynthia Street

    I am Canadian born. My grandparents were British. I entered the UK with an Ancestry Visa in 2003. I lived in England for 5 years. I then applied for Right to Abode in 2008 and was successful. I was given a Residence Permit with Limited Leave to Remain. What does that mean?
    Anyway……One year and 6 months later I decided to move back to Canada and re-entered Canada in late 2009.
    Do I still have Right to Abode? Can it be taken away from me?
    I am now considering working in Scotland and re-entering the UK.
    I am unsure how to proceed. What is my status. Should I apply for a British Passport, or do I need to apply for another Ancestry Visa and start all over again?