Panic over the Introduction of the Minimum Pay Threshold

Over the past week, Breytenbachs Immigration Consultants (BIC) received a large number of calls from persons panicking about the £35,000 pay threshold that again are making headlines in both local and overseas media.

Firstly, we highly recommend that all clients who think that they might be affected by the introduction of the pay threshold to get in touch with their BIC consultant, without delay, as to ensure that an alternative route to extend their stay in the UK is planned. New clients are also welcome to contact us in this regard, at info@bic-immigration.com

We also want to emphasise to readers how important it is to keep in touch with your BIC consultant on a continuous basis, as to ensure a health check is done on your UK Immigration status on a regular basis. This way, we can ensure that your route to British Citizenship is never compromised, and an alternative found well in advance, in cases where deemed necessary.

To shed some light on the issue of the minimum pay threshold, and to provide our clients with the real facts, we have answered some of the frequently asked questions that we have received on the issue:

Please can you tell us more about what the £35,000 minimum pay threshold for persons working in the UK is about?

The UK Government will be introducing a minimum pay threshold Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (Sportsperson) migrants who are applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK. This minimum pay threshold will be introduced from 6 April 2016.

From this date, and unless one of the exceptions applies, the applicant will have to earn at least £35,000 when applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain. If they are not able to proof that they are earning this minimum pay threshold, they have to leave the UK, unless they can find an alternative route to remain in the country.

The UK Home Office also indicated that the pay threshold will scale up year-on-year as follows;

• £35,000 if the date of application is on or after 6 April 2016,
• £35,500 if the date of application is on or after 6 April 2018,
• £35,800 if the date of application is on or after 6 April 2019,
• £36,200 if the date of application is on or after 6 April 2020.

Will Tier 2 migrants whose jobs are on the Shortage Occupation List also be affected?

No. Tier 2 migrants whose occupations appear on the Shortage Occupation List will not have to fulfil this requirement. Tier 2 migrants whose occupations are skilled to Ph.D. level are also exempt.

This is very good news for nurses working in the UK, as the Occupation of Nurses was recently added to the Shortage Occupation List.

I am a Tier 2 General migrant, whose occupation is not on the Shortage Occupation List, and want to find out whether there are any further exceptions to this pay threshold rule?

Yes, there are. The following persons are exempt;

• Tier 2 migrants whose occupations are skilled to Ph.D. level,
• Tier 2 migrants whose occupations are on the Shortage Occupation List,
• Under certain circumstances Tier 2 migrants who was previously sponsored as Tier 2 General migrants and their occupation was listed under the Shortage Occupation List – please speak to your BIC advisor for further details in this regard.

The pay threshold also will not apply to persons if the continuous 5-year period preceding the date that the ILR application is submitted includes a period of leave as the following;
• A Qualifying Work Permit Holder, or
• A Tier 2 migrant, whose Certificate of Sponsorship, was assigned to the applicant before 6 April 2011.

I am currently in the UK on an Ancestry Visa and extremely concerned about the new minimum pay threshold. Will it affect Ancestry Visa holders?

The pay threshold will only apply to Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (Sportsperson) holders. It will not affect applicants for ILR in any of the other immigration categories, and persons in other immigration categories do not need to worry.

What happens when I qualify to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain and I do not fulfil the pay threshold?

Tier 2 holders can normally apply for ILR after spending five years in the UK in this capacity. If they do not qualify for ILR upon completion of the five years, they will be able to remain in the UK for a further 12 months in this capacity (to bring their total period of stay as a Tier 2 migrant to six years).

BIC strongly recommends that Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (Sportsperson) migrants, who qualify to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain before 6 April 2016, contact BIC as soon as possible.

In the meantime, BIC will be adding its voice to the number of organisations that are strongly urging the UK Government not to introduce these stringent new measures. Please also urge family and friends to subscribe to our newsletter or follow BIC on social media for news on this topic.