General thresholdGoing rate
80% of going rate or 70% if new entrant
0PhD in relevant subject to job10
£23,04090% of going rate10PhD in STEM subject relevant to job20
100% of going rate
Shortage occupation
£20,480Listed health/education job & meets national pay scale20New entrant20

Salary means gross basic guaranteed salary only. Allowances and benefits in kind cannot be included, nor can shift premiums, overtime pay etc. If the migrant is contracted to work more than 48 hours per week, you can only count salary based on 48 hours towards the overall minimum salary requirement. The going rate however is based on 39 hours per week and will need to be pro-rated up or down accordingly depending on the migrant’s contracted hours.

The definition of a “new entrant” (relevant when considering salary requirements and tradeable points) is being amended. In addition to migrants under the age of 26 and those switching from a Student visa, it will include those who have been Students in the last two years, postdoc researchers in certain SOC codes and those working towards a recognised professional qualification or full registration required for their job. The maximum time as a new entrant is four years.

Unfortunately the MAC recommendations to add to the shortage occupation list have not yet been accepted. The Government has said it wishes to assess the impact of the pandemic, before it adds RQF3 level jobs to the shortage list. This is going to have a significant impact on the ability to recruit for those roles, as we anticipate in many cases migrants would have been relying on the role being a shortage occupation in order to get the necessary “tradeable points” where the salary is below £25,600.

Intra-company transfers

The new rules allow intra-company transfers, on the same basis as we have now. Sponsors should note that the minimum skill level required for an ICT remains at RQF level 6, it is not being reduced to RQF level 3. It also remains the case that a higher minimum salary of £41,500 is required (or £23,000 for the ICT Graduate Trainee route).

The cooling off period is being replaced by an overall limit on the time spent in this category. This will be five years in any six, or nine years in any 10 if a high earner. We can see two reasons why a sponsor might choose to use the ICT route, rather than the Skilled Worker visa. Firstly it allows the migrant to be seconded to the UK and remain on the payroll of their overseas employer, instead of having to be paid by the UK sponsor.

Secondly there is no English language requirement.

The Government has indicated that it does see value in retaining this visa route in the long term, but has asked the MAC to carry out a review to consider:

Therefore sponsors should be prepared for further changes to this route.


The Government announced this route with great fanfare some time ago. Graduates from UK universities with a Bachelors or Masters degree will be able to stay in the UK for two years, those with a PhD for thee years, to work or look for work at any skill level, without requiring sponsorship. However the Graduate route will not open until summer 2021 and actually it is still not covered by the Rules.

What about other work visa routes?

Although the legislation is changing in the background and some of the terminology is being amended, the practical impact on the following work visa routes is less significant.

This article is from the October 2020 issue of Employment and Immigration Law Update, our monthly newsletter for HR professionals. To download the latest issue, please visit the newsletter section of our website. For more details regarding any of the matters covered in this update, please contact a member of our Immigration Team.

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