New Tier 2 UK visa rules won’t affect UK architect firms say industry experts

While April’s Tier 2 visa changes continue to cause problems for most British businesses with tier 2 sponsorship licences, UK architect firms won’t be affected by the UK visa rules for recruiting highly-skilled, non-EU workers on tier 2 visas.

According to a report published by the Architects’ Journal, the latest raft of Tier 2 visa changes will only serve to harden the resolve of architects not to recruit non-European Union staff.

A series of changes introduced under the UK Immigration Act, included an immigration skills charge of £1,000, per employee per year (£364 for smaller employers), to hire skilled non-EU personnel. However, industry experts claim that architecture firms already avoid the Tier 2 visa category completely because of existing rules.

Director of finance and development at Hoskins Architects, Jennifer Guillain, said: “The majority of architect firms won’t be affected by the new rules. Hoskins doesn’t currently recruit staff who need a Tier 2 visa to work in the UK, neither do a lot of other firms across the industry.

Employers with Tier 2 Sponsorship Licences forced to ‘jump through hoops’

Prior to the new immigration skills charge, and an increase in the salary threshold from £25,000 to £30,000, UK employers were already forced to ‘jump through hoops.’ Recruiters had to place a minimum of two job adverts for ‘resident workers’ – from the UK or EU – to fill posts, before looking further afield if vacancies went unfilled.

Guillain said: “When we advertise a vacancy, we get swamped by applications from resident workers. It makes no sense to hire someone without a visa ahead of those applicants who fit the profile and have a right to work in the UK.”

Dave Madden, director of architectural recruitment agency, Mustard said: “Not one of my clients would be happy to deal with us if the process involved a Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence requirement. If a candidate can’t work in Britain, they are not interested. It’s nothing personal, they just don’t want to deal with the bureaucracy of the Tier 2 visa system.”

Mr Madden added that he did not think April’s new immigration rules would affect the architectural industry too greatly. However, he claims that larger firms would ‘happily pay the fees because they have the resources to cope with all the red tape.

The immigration skills charge is discounted to £364 for students and small companies. Meanwhile, PhD-level occupations, overseas nationals switching from a Tier 4 student visa to a Tier 2 working visa and existing employees moving to a UK branch of a business by way of a Tier 2 intra-company transfer, will benefit from exemptions.

Foreign nationals discriminated against

Architect, Chris Dyson, told the Architects’ Journal that the overall effect of stricter Tier 2 visa rules on UK companies is having a ‘damaging effect on business.’

He said: ‘As a professional, your networks tend to work in all sorts of ways. Employing someone from outside the EU might lead to work. Free-thinking people should be free to cross borders. We like to be able to pick and choose the best person whether they are foreign or European. However, prejudice is now being imposed.’

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