UK concerns over increased migrant populations have had two recent effects on relocations to the UK, one which has been proposed and will likely be forthcoming in 2016, the other of which has already been implemented.
After being commissioned by the UK Government to address concerns about increased non-EU migrants using the Tier 2 visa route, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has released its recommendations.
What is the Tier 2 Visa Route?
Tier 2 is the foremost path taken by expatriates to go to the UK.
While the MAC recognized and acknowledged the importance of skilled migrants to the UK economy, their recommendations will affect global assignments or permanent relocations to the UK.
Most global assignments will not be affected by the first recommendation, which is a raising of the minimum salary threshold of £20,800 to £30,000 to reflect the current degree skill requirement (NQF6+) for the Tier 2 visa category. However, they are also recommending an Immigration Skills Charge (ISC). It would be a levy on businesses to collect revenue to go towards training individuals in the UK and increase their skills in the domestic job sector. In turn, this will decrease the number of migrant workers in the UK.
The biggest changes for global assignments will come for the intra-company transfer category for which it has been recommended that a) the salary threshold should be increased to £41,500 and; b) that the required amount of prior experience the employee has with the employer should increase from 12 months to 2 years, although this would not apply to the graduate trainee or skills transfer route.
The UK government will consider these recommendations, and implementation would likely occur in 2016.
Recommendation: Companies should look at any prospective relocations to the UK and determine if those employees have less than 2 years of experience. If so, it may wish to fast track these assignments, in case the UK government does enact the recommendations in 2016. The size of any future levies is unknown, but expect the cost of immigration to the UK to cost more in future.
Securing a Property
Also, in relation to the migrant issue, the Immigration Act 2014(this law became effective on February 1, 2016) introduced a requirement for private landlords to conduct checks BEFORE signing leases to establish that new tenants have the right to rent in the UK. This should only affect a minority of global assignees. It is never recommended to conclude home finding trips with the signing of lease, if the assignee does not yet have his / her work permit, but a distinct minority of global assignees do exactly this, if they find a home that they like. With this law, however, landlords must check a prospective tenant’s immigration status, which means that those who try to rent a property BEFORE they have their work permit will not succeed.
Recommendation: Human Resources and global mobility professionals should ensure that home finding trips for global assignees or permanent transfers not occur until a work permit is in hand.