The Home Secretary, James Cleverly, has announced a package of measures designed to bring down net migration. According to B P Collins’ business immigration team, the main impact on the Skilled Worker route is that employers will have to pay sponsored migrant employees more if they wish to retain their skills.
The headline change is that the minimum salary threshold is going to rise 33% to £38,700 per year. While this won’t affect some roles, such as highly paid executives, for many other roles employers will have to take a long, hard look and decide whether it is economic to sponsor a worker.
Further changes are that shortage occupations will have to meet the same threshold and will no longer benefit from a 20% discount to their salary requirements and there will be a 66% increase to the immigration health surcharge to £1,035 per year. Although the health surcharge is technically a cost to the migrant, in many cases the employer agrees to fund it.
While sponsoring Skilled Workers may in many cases be about to get much more expensive, what Mr Cleverly has not done is reintroduce the Resident Labour Market Test (which required employers to advertise jobs to settled workers first before offering them to migrants) or implement an annual restriction on the total number of employees who can be sponsored under the route. Those were two features of the old Tier 2 (General) visa which added a significant administrative burden to employers. It remains to be seen if they will remain “off the table” permanently.