New health surcharge and minimum salary threshold for Tier 2 workers

21st Apr 2015

An overview of the upcoming changes to the UK Immigration Rules for Tier 2 Sponsors April 2015

The most recent statement of changes, which come into effect on the 6th April 2015 includes an additional health surcharge for migrants. All Tier 2 (General) workers who apply to come to the UK from overseas or extend their stay in the UK will be required to pay a health surcharge at the time of applying for their visa.

This fee has been introduced to ensure that migrants who are coming to the UK for more than 6 months to work, study or join family will contribute to the NHS. The fee for workers is £200 per year. It is payable upfront at the time of applying for their visa online. If they are applying for a 5-year visa, they will be charged a health surcharge of £1,000 in addition to their visa fee. The fee is non-refundable in the case that the worker doesn't use the NHS or departs the UK prior to their visa expiring. If the worker has private health insurance, they still have to pay the health surcharge. Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer) workers are exempt from this surcharge.

Also new for Tier 2 workers is an increase in the minimum salary thresholds and appropriate salary rates as set out in the Codes of Practice. The main increases are set out in the table below:

Tier 2 General:

• The minimum salary threshold is being increased from £20,500 to £20,800. 
• The minimum salary for roles to be exempt from advertising on Jobcentre Plus is increasing from £71,600 to £72,500 
• The High Earner Rate is being increased from £153,500 to £155,300

Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer):

• The minimum salary threshold for Long Term Staff is being increased from £41,000 to £41,500. 
• The minimum salary threshold for Skills Transfer, Short Term Staff and Graduate Trainees is being increased from £24,500 to £24,800

As always, you must also ensure that the minimum rate per the updated SOC Codes of Practice is also met.

Please also note that a new minimum salary rate for ILR applications will come into effect on the 5th April 2016. Anyone applying for ILR based on 5 years continuous residence as a Tier 2 skilled worker will need to show that they are earning at least £35,000. The ILR minimum salary threshold will only apply at the time that the application for ILR is being made and not throughout the entire 5-year qualifying period. Those in Shortage or PhD level occupations are exempt from this minimum threshold.

Finally, there will also be a new exception to the cooling off period whereby it will not apply to previous grants of leave that were for 3 months or less.