The Home Secretary has published a Statement of Changes in the Immigration Rules, with a phased rollout of changes commencing in April 2023. These changes will impact most of the work visa categories, including the Skilled Worker and Global Business Mobility routes.
The amendments to the Skilled Worker and Global Business Mobility visa categories will take effect on 12 April 2023, with visa applications (both entry clearance and leave to remain) submitted on or before 11 April 2023 being considered in line with the previous Immigration Rules.
Currently, a Skilled Worker applicant must be paid the higher of the ‘going rate’ for their job or £25,600 per year; what is known as the ‘minimum salary threshold.’
From 12 April 2023, the minimum salary threshold will increase to £26,200 per year, meaning any Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) assigned on/after this date must adhere to this minimum. There are a few exceptions to this rule, which allow sponsors to pay Skilled Workers less than the minimum salary threshold, including where the Skilled Worker:
- is being sponsored in a shortage occupation role – can be paid 80% of the job’s usual going rate;
- is under the age of 26, is studying/a recent graduate, or is in professional training – can be paid 70% of the job’s usual going rate;
- has a STEM (science, technology, engineering, or maths) PhD level qualification which is relevant to their job – can be paid 80% of the job’s usual going rate so long as the minimum is £20,480 per year; or
- has a postdoctoral position in science or higher education – can be paid 70% of the job’s usual going rate.
From 12 April 2023, the minimum for Skilled Worker with qualifying STEM PhD level qualifications will increase from £20,480 to £20,960 per year. If the Skilled Worker has a PhD level qualification in a non-STEM subject, the minimum will increase from £23,040 per year to £23,580 per year.
A paragraph is being added into the Immigration Rules to reiterate that sponsors must comply with the National Minimum Wage and Working Time Regulations when employing sponsored Skilled Workers and Global Business Mobility migrants.
On the Global Business Mobility: Senior or Specialist Worker route, the minimum salary threshold will increase from £42,400 per year to £45,800 per year, and for Global Business Mobility: Graduate Trainees, sponsors must pay at least £24,200 per year (previously £23,100 per year).
Sponsorship Management System (SMS)
In addition to the various changes in the Immigration Rules, the Home Office has also amended certain processes for sponsors to change or add Key Personnel on their sponsor licence and renew their annual CoS allocation, to simplify and expedite the existing overcomplicated procedures. These new processes will only be available to sponsors with fully active and A-rated sponsor licences.
As of 24 March 2023, requests on the SMS to replace the Authorising Officer (AO) and/or Key Contact (KC), and add Level 1 Users will be actioned immediately, provided certain criteria are met.
When requesting to replace the AO or KC, this will be done automatically on the SMS if the postcode of the address for the new AO/KC matches either the postcode of the main organisation address or head office on the licence summary. Requests to replace the AO will still require the sponsor to download and send the Submission Sheet, along with any required supporting documents.
When requesting to add a Level 1 User, this will also be done automatically on the SMS if the postcode for the newly appointed Level 1 User matches the postcode of the legal representative organisation stated on the licence summary. The new Level 1 User should receive their temporary password immediately and their Level 1 User status on the SMS will be ‘Active.’
If these criteria are not met, these types of requests will not be fulfilled automatically and will be subject to the standard 18-week processing time, with the option to apply for the £200 post licence priority service, which is at present currently experiencing delays in being accepted onto the service.
Annual CoS allocation
Sponsor licences in eligible routes will have their annual CoS allocation automatically renewed after the allocation expiry date, with the number of CoS’ granted matching the number of CoS’ assigned from the CoS allocation in the previous year.
The automatic renewals will only apply to CoS allocations due to expire on/after 25 June 2023, meaning the current annual CoS renewal application must still be used for annual CoS allocations expiring before this date.
The following immigration routes are eligible for the new automatic renewal process:
- Skilled Worker
- GBM – Senior/Specialist Worker
- GBM – Graduate Trainee
- Minister of Religion
- International Sportsperson
- Charity Worker
- Creative Worker
- Government Authorised Exchange
- International Agreement
- Religious Worker
- Scale Up
The following immigration routes are excluded from being eligible, and therefore will require renewal of CoS allocation applications on the SMS:
- GBM – UK Expansion
- GBM – Service Supplier
- GBM – Secondment Worker
- Seasonal Worker
- Student and Child Student
The Statement of Changes has introduced several significant amendments to the UK immigration rules that have the potential to impact individuals, in particular businesses, in their decision making process. The changes outlined in this article highlight the evolving nature of UK’s immigration policies, which aim to simplify the immigration process. However, it also shows the need for businesses to remain vigilant and up-to-date on any developments in this areas.
It is essential for anyone that might be affected by these changes to seek professional advice and guidance to ensure compliance with the new requirements.
If you are in need of further clarification or guidance in respect of the above, please do not hesitate to contact us and we will be happy to help.