Britain has announced changes in its immigration rules that would affect Indian professionals, IT companies, especially those using the Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) route.
The changes include higher salary thresholds; the rules will come into effect from 24 Nov'16.
Indian IT professionals constitute nearly 90% of the UK visas granted under the ICT route, reflecting the increasing number of IT professionals and companies in Britain.
The UK's visa crackdown on non-EU nationals
UK Home Office's statement
"The first of two phases of changes to Tier 2, announced by the government in March following a review by the Independent Migration Advisory Committee, will affect applications made on or after November 24 unless stated otherwise."
Primary changes made to the Tier-2 visa category
The primary visa changes were made to the Tier-2 category; the General Salary requirement threshold for experienced workers is increased to £25,000.
The ICT salary threshold for short-term workers is now £30,000 from £20,800.
The ICT graduate trainee salary is increased to £23,000; the ICT skills transfer sub-category has been closed.
The changes come only days before British PM Theresa May's three-day India visit.
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Indian professionals of other sectors
While the changes would also affect Indian professionals of other sectors, those in the IT sector are likely to be hit hard. The new rules follow the changes announced earlier this year to lower the dependence of UK-based companies on Indian and other non-EU professionals.
The UK specifically mentioned India in its report
The UK's Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), in its January IT sector report, had specifically mentioned India while recommending higher salary thresholds and other changes.
It stated immigration wasn't "serving to increase the incentive to employers to train and upskill the UK workforce."
Indian companies were some of the heaviest ICT users while the top ten ICT route employers were mostly employing Indian IT professionals.
The Migration Advisory Committee's statement
"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."
New English language requirements to impact Indians settling in UK
Changes in Tier-4 visa category covering maintenance requirements for Doctorate Extension Scheme were also announced.
The new English language requirements would impact Indians applying for settlement as a family member after two-and-a-half years on a five-year route to residency settlement in the UK.
The requirements would apply to partners/parents whose current leave to remain in the UK would expire or on after 1 May'17.
Recruiting and training UK workers first
The current changes in immigration rules (the first of two phases to Tier-2 category) were reportedly announced in Mar'16.
The then-UK Immigration Minister James Brokenshire had stated: "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 they get far better at recruiting and training UK workers first."
24 Nov 2016
UK: New non-EU visa come into force
The UK's new visa policy for non-EU residents will come into force today; the policy aims at curbing the inflow of migrants into the country.
As per the new norms, applications under the Tier 2 intra-company transfer (ICT) category would be required to meet a higher salary threshold requirement.
Indian IT companies are expected to take a hit due to the new clauses.
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