Sunday, November 6, 2016

New UK visa rules for non-EU citizens set to affect Indian IT professionals

Announcing a change in its immigration policy on Thursday, Britain introduced higher salary thresholds, which is set to affect Indian professionals and IT companies, particularly those using the Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) visa.

Under the new rules, any person applying after November 24 under the Tier 2 intra-company transfer (ICT) category has to meet the higher salary threshold requirement of £30,000 compared to the earlier figure of £20,800. Though the move is set to affect Indians in other sectors also, it mainly concerns Indian IT workers that account for nearly 90% of UK visas granted under the ICT route.

Other new rules introduced to alter Tier 2 visa category include:
• Increasing the General salary threshold for experienced workers to £25,000, with some exemptions
• Increasing the ICT salary threshold for short-term staff to £30,000
• Reducing the Tier 2 (ICT) graduate trainee salary threshold to £23,000
• Increasing the number of places to 20 per company per year
• Closing the ICT skills transfer sub-category

The changes, based on the recommendations of the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), also include a new rule that will ensure partners and parents of immigrants would be required to pass a new English language requirement in order to extend their stay after 2.5 years in Britain.

It has been suggested that the change in policy that comes just days before British Prime Minister Theresa May lands in India on Sunday for her three-day visit is part of a wider crackdown to curb the soaring immigration figures and to reduce the dependence of British companies on Indian and other non-EU professionals.

"(Immigration) is not serving to increase the incentive to employers to train and upskill the UK workforce. Ready access to a pool of skilled IT professionals in India is an example of this. We did not see any substantive evidence of long-standing reciprocal arrangements whereby UK staff are given the opportunity to gain skills, training and experience from working in India," MAC had said in its January report in relation to the IT sector.

The MAC noted that "some of the heaviest users of the intra-company transfer route are Indian companies, and the top ten employers using the intra-company transfer route are all largely employing IT workers from India".

"The evidence indicates that multinational companies with a presence in India have developed a competitive advantage in delivering IT projects in the UK", the MAC had noted.

The new rules follow further tightening of the Tier 2 category, which came into force in April this year.

"The UK government's reforms to Tier 2 work visas are intended to ensure that businesses are able to attract the skilled people they need, but also see that they get far better at recruiting and training UK workers first," then UK Immigration minister James Brokenshire had said.

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