|March 12, 2014|
Previously published on March 10, 2014
Changes to the rules relating to salary levels and occupation codes for Restricted Certificates of Sponsorship are expected to take effect on April 6, 2014. Restricted Certificates of Sponsorship are used for foreign nationals applying for the Tier 2 (General) category under two scenarios: foreign nationals who will annually earn under £152,100 and who seek to enter the UK, and dependents of Tier 4 visa holders already residing in the UK.
Change to Salary Levels for Skilled Occupations
Salary levels established for certain skilled occupations will change and likely increase on April 6. Although the exact figures have not yet been announced, it is expected that the changes will broadly parallel salary inflation.
Restricted Certificates of Sponsorship that were issued from January through March 2014 will have to comply with the new salary levels if they are not assigned to an individual by April 5. Restricted Certificates of Sponsorship are assigned to foreign nationals through the Sponsor Management System online tool.
Reclassification of Standard Occupation Classification Codes
Several Standard Occupation Classification (SOC) codes will be modified with multiple options for the various job levels within those occupations. With this change, employers will have greater clarity on how to match a position to a corresponding occupation within the SOC codes. Among those affected are:
- 2123 Electrical engineers;
- 2211 Medical practitioners;
- 2213 Pharmacists;
- 2219 Health professionals not elsewhere classified;
- 2231 Nurses; and
- 2442 Social workers.
Deferred Application and Decision Time Frames
In April, the Home Office will temporarily defer the filing period and decision date for Restricted Certificates of Sponsorship to provide employers additional time to incorporate the changes to salary levels and classification codes. Employers must normally file these applications by the 5th of each month, and the Home Office typically decides on the 11th of each month whether to grant a Certificate to an employer. With the extension, the following dates will apply in April:
- Applications filed between April 6 and 16 will be decided by April 18
- Applications filed between April 17 and May 5 will be decided on May 12
- Applications filed between May 6 and June 5 will be decided on June 11
Urgent applications filed between March 6 and April 16 must be accompanied with a request that outlines the reasons for exceptional consideration. The Home Office offers this urgent processing as a one-time option due to April’s deferred decision date but may deny such requests. If the Home Office does not expedite based on exceptional circumstances, the Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship will be adjudicated by April 18.
What This Means for Employers
Employers may need to postpone April start dates for affected foreign nationals by one to two weeks and will need to increase salary levels for Tier 2 (General) positions with assignment details that are finalized on or after April 6, 2014.
The timing for bringing in new Tier 2 (General) migrants to the UK may be temporarily delayed, as will the timing for employing foreign nationals who are currently in the UK as dependents of a Tier 4 visa holder and are switching to Tier 2 (General).