The government has published a new Statement of Changes to the UK Immigration Rules. The main change is to exempt all doctors and nurses from the annual Tier 2 (General) visa limit. The Tier 2 (General) category is the main immigration route for UK employers seeking to recruit non-EEA skilled workers. It is subject to an annual limit of 20,700 places, divided into monthly allocations. The exemption for doctors and nurses is in in response to the particular shortages and pressures currently facing the NHS, and the fact that the visa limit has been significantly oversubscribed in each month since December 2017 (with the result that applications submitted have been refused where applicants were to be paid less than £55,000 unless they were PhD level roles, a role listed on the Shortage Occupation List or were prioritised for other reasons). From a private sector employer’s perspective, this new exemption for doctors and nurses will now free up hundreds of places within the visa limit for applications for restricted certificates of sponsorship for other skilled occupations, as NHS workers currently make up about 40% of all restricted certificate of sponsorship applications. It should also lead to a drop in the salary level currently required to secure a restricted certificate of sponsorship.
Other changes to Tier 2 (General) include:
• Requiring Tier 2 migrants applying for settlement, who have been absent from work on maternity, paternity, shared parental or adoption leave, to provide evidence of the birth or adoption
• A provision preventing Tier 2 migrants from holding more than 10% of shares in their sponsor indirectly (as well as directly), such as via another corporate entity.
The changes will come into effect on 6 July 2018.
In addition, from 1 July 2018, Croatian nationals no longer need to apply for worker authorisation in order to work in the UK.