Changes to foreign worker rules

The Immigration Act 2016 was introduced to combat illegal working and reduce Britain’s reliance on migrant workers. The changes were timetabled to be introduced over a number of months and some changes were introduced to foreign workers from outside the EEA who are applying for roles from April 2017. Here we take a look at how these will affect education establishments.

Tier 2 minimum salary threshold increase

The minimum salary amount Tier 2 (General) visa applicants have to earn increased last autumn to £25,000. From 6th April 2017, the minimum annual salary increased again to £30,000 pa. The increase means that teachers from outside the EEA have to earn this minimum salary before becoming eligible for a visa and having the right to work in the UK.

Teachers who are classed as new entrants to the visa, those under 26 years old or switching from a Tier 4 visa, are remaining at the old rate of £20,800 pa.

Immigration Skills Charge introduced

The Immigration Skills Charge has been introduced to each certificate of sponsorship applied for after 6th April 2017. This is a charge payable by employers upfront to receive a certificate of sponsorship. It is set at a rate of £1,000 with a reduced rate of £364 for charitable and small employees; those with an annual turnover under £10.2 million or 50 employees or less.

The charge won’t apply to graduate trainees switching to a Tier 2 visa or those who are already employed and simply extending their visa.
The government is to use the money raised by the charge to fund apprenticeship schemes to support their aim of achieving 3 million new apprenticeships by 2020.

Certain teachers remain exempt

To recognise the importance many schools place on employing foreign workers to fill staffing and skills gaps, certain secondary school teachers will remain exempt from these changes until July 2019. Exempted subjects are those in maths, physics, chemistry, computer science and Mandarin.

This exemption allows employers two years grace to ensure they are not facing a recruitment crisis. From July 2019, it is expected that these will be introduced. Teachers for these subjects will then be placed under the minimum salary and skills charge requirements and employers will have to pay for these before employing a foreign worker in these roles.

Education Employment Law Consultant Megan Lancastersays “These changes were introduced by the government to reduce Britain’s reliance on migrant workers. While the exemption is welcomed, employers will be required to pay these extra costs before being granted a visa for certain foreign workers.”

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