On 1st March 2013 UK Border Agency published a statement of intent (link: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/about-us/parliamentary-business/written-ministerial-statement/skilled-migrant-workers/) announcing changes to the Tier 2 Codes of Practice for skilled migrant workers from outside the European Economic Area. The changes, due to come into effect on 6th April 2013, are largely based on feedback from the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) which was commissioned by the Government to review the existing Codes of Practice. The changes are designed to simplify, update, and improve the system, rather than introduce any substantial policy change. The main changes include: - An update to the SOC (Standard Occupational Classification) system. The current Codes of Practice utilise the SOC system from 2000, and will now be updated to reflect 2010 classifications.
- An update to the salary requirements for each occupation. The salary requirements for occupations will be amended in line with MAC recommendations, and the minimum salary requirements increased in line with wage inflation.
- Amendments to the Resident Labour Market Test. Organisations will now be allowed greater freedom to advertise for positions in the media that is most relevant to their sector. Most jobs will still be required to be advertised via the Jobcentre Plus online service however, and this amendment appears to be designed to increase the number of settled workers targeted by job adverts.
Changes to the Immigration Rules incorporating these updates are due to be laid before Parliament nearer the time.
In the meantime, any employers intending to grant a Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship (RCos) before 6th April 2013 should urgently make arrangements to assign it before 5th April 2013, otherwise the “job-type” details will be lost in the transition to the new SOC codes. In the event that this happens, a new application for a new RCoS will be required.
If due to exceptional circumstances a RCoS is required as a matter of urgency between 6th March 2013 and 18th April 2013, representations can be made to UKBA on the same day that the application is submitted, and these will be considered on a case-by-case basis.