Belfast Telegraph

Firms face £1,000 annual charge for every skilled worker from outside Europe

Businesses are to be forced to pay an annual £1,000 charge for every skilled worker they employ from outside Europe.

The move, announced by the Home Office, follows a recommendation by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) earlier this year.

It is one of a number of reforms to Tier 2 - the official name for the main migration route for skilled workers coming to the UK from outside Europe.

Immigration minister James Brokenshire said: " The MAC strongly supported the introduction of the immigration skills charge to incentivise employers to reduce their reliance on migrant workers and to invest in training and upskilling UK workers.

"The charge will be levied on Tier 2 employers at a rate of £1,000 per certificate of sponsorship per year."

A reduced rate of £364 will apply to "small and charitable" sponsors. Some workers will be exempt, such as those in PhD-level occupations or switching from a Tier 4 student visa to a Tier 2 visa.

Under the new model the Tier 2 minimum salary will be raised to £30,000 for "experienced" workers.

The basic minimum threshold for new entrants will remain at £20,800 and the annual limit for Tier 2 places will stay at 20,700 a year.

Mr Brokenshire said: "For too long we have had a shortage of workers in certain roles, and in the past it has been too easy for employers to recruit overseas."

He said the Government intends to have completed implementation of the measures by April next year.

Neil Carberry, CBI director for employment and skills policy, said: "Skilled migration is good for the UK, helping to fill skills gaps and supporting firms to trade globally.

"Businesses want to see the tier 2 cap raised not further visa price increases, especially a skills charge, which will only hold them back from accessing the talent they need to grow."

He added: "Companies recognise the importance of upskilling the UK workforce - they are already spending £45bn per year on training - and are set to start paying the new apprenticeship levy from next year.

"The phasing in of new salary thresholds, measures to support international students into the labour market and retaining work rights for dependents will be welcomed by many firms."