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.
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.