London, Apr 4: Tougher and more expensive visa rules announced by the UK Home Office last year are set to take effect from Thursday, affecting Indians and other nationals from outside the European Union (EU).
The Tier 2 category of visas, a route used by many Indians and other nationals from outside the EU, will undergo major set of changes under the new rules.
Companies in the UK hiring workers from outside the EU, such as Indians, will have to shell out an additional 1,000-pound annual "Immigration Skills Charge", announced in March last year.
"Set at 1,000 pounds per employee per year, and a reduced rate of 364 pounds for small or charitable organisations, it (Immigration Skills Charge) is designed to cut down on the number of businesses taking on migrant workers and incentivise
training British staff to fill those jobs," the UK Home Office said, in reference to the new levy.
An exemption to the charge will mean that it will not apply to PhD-level jobs and international students switching from student visas to working visas - "a key protection to help retain the talented workers and students who are vital in helping the British economy grow", the Home Office added.
The latest charge is among a wider changes made to the Tier 2 visa regime in an effort to cut immigration numbers from countries outside the EU and tighten visa regulations.
Most recently, the UK government had announced that professionals such as teachers, nurses and social workers from countries like India who apply for a Tier 2 visa to live and work in the UK will need to provide a certificate from their home country authorities with their applications disclosing whether they have any criminal convictions.
Under plans becoming effective from this week, skilled migrants applying within the Tier 2 category for these specific professions will now be required to provide a criminal record check certificate from any countries they have lived in for more than 12 months in the past 10 years.
An applicant's partner, or a partner wishing to join an existing skilled migrant worker in the same sectors, will also be asked to produce a certificate.
The requirement could be waived where it is deemed not "reasonably practicable" to obtain a certificate, such as if a country or authority does not produce such documents.
Some of the other changes include those applying for a Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) visa being required to pay a health surcharge of 200 pounds per person per year.