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Overseas IT directors could need salary of £56,100 to work in the UK

The government has confirmed the salaries it considers as the ‘going rate’ for tech professions, which overseas applicants will need to earn to gain immigration points

IT directors could be expected to earn at least £56,100 in order for their salary to count towards points for a work visa in the UK, according to the latest government guidelines.

The government has clarified the rules surrounding the tradable points which will be part of the UK’s new points-based immigration system due to come into effect in January 2021.

As part of the system, skilled workers applying through the Skilled Worker route need 70 points to be able to enter the UK on a work visa, some of which can be gained by having a PhD qualification relevant to a role, or being on the shortage occupation list as outlined by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC).

Julian David, CEO of trade body techUK, said in a statement about the new immigration rules: “The digital skills gap is not unique to the UK, making tech talent in high demand across the global digital economy.

“TechUK’s members are committed to building a strong domestic talent pipeline, but for the UK to remain world leading in fields such as AI [artificial intelligence] and quantum computing, it must remain open and attractive to international innovators, investors and the talent that supports that ambition.

“The development of a new immigration system provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build a system that meets the needs of our dynamic, modern economy while creating a high-level of public trust.

“This needs to include the ability to support digital tech talent to move around for short-term activities to support their customers and supply chains. The tech sector is the UK’s modern success story and vital to delivering on the government’s ambition to create a high-skill, high-wage economy that is fit for the future.”

The non-tradable points, which account for 50 of the total, are rewarded for a sponsor-approved job offer, a job at the appropriate skill level, and the required level of English language, and are compulsory for applicants to be accepted for work in the UK.

A skilled worker’s salary can factor into the remaining points need to make up the 70 which will grant a visa – 20 points towards their visa application can be earned by having a salary higher than the threshold of £25,600 and at least the specified salary for their particular job.

Outlined in the new rules are the salaries considered the “going rate” for several IT-based jobs, including IT director, technical director, and telecommunications director, which have a going rate of around £56,100, according to UK Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) data collected each year by the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

The going rate for a job role is calculated using the 25th percentile of earnings from the UK ASHE, and will be updated as and when new results are published.

For IT specialists managers, including roles such as data centre manager, IT manager, IT support manager, network operations manager and service delivery manager, the going rate is considered to be £38,000 a year, or £18.74 an hour based on a 39-hour working week.

IT project and programmes managers are considered to have the going rate of £40,000, which includes roles such as implementation manager, IT project manager, programme manager and project leader.

IT business analysts, architects or systems designers – including roles such as business analyst, data communications analyst, systems analyst, systems consultant, technical analyst, and technical architect – would need to earn £36,600 a year.

Meanwhile, the going rate for programmers and software development professionals with roles such as analyst-programmer, database developer, games programmer, programmer, and software engineer is considered to be around £33,300.

Information technology and telecommunications professionals with not elsewhere classified roles – such as IT consultant, quality analyst, software tester, systems tester, and telecommunications planner – have a going rate of £31,800. Bringing up the rear are web design and development professionals, including internet developer, multimedia developer, web design consultant and web designer, which make about £26,000.

This means for an applicant’s salary to account for 20 towards their tradable points, they have to have a job offer with a salary of at least the going rate for their role that is also above the general threshold of £25,600.

There are ways to earn 10 points for their salary, for example if it is within the general salary band of £23,040-£25,599 and at least 90% of the going rate for their role, but in some cases even if their salary is above the higher general salary of £25,599 and is below a certain percentage of the going rate for their role, they will not gain any points for salary as part of their application.

If the applicant earns under a certain percentage of their going rate and/or the general salary threshold, they could potentially still earn enough points to come and work in the UK using other tradeable criteria such as a PhD qualification related to their role or a role on the shortage occupation list, as long as they earn at least £20,480.

The MAC is responsible for designating the roles of the shortage occupations list – currently, IT business analysts, architects and systems designers, programmers and software development professionals, web designer and development professionals and cyber security specialists are on the shortage occupation list.

There are additional rules for certain individuals to work in the UK, depending on if they are a student hoping to transition into work in the UK after study, are new entrants to the UK’s job market or hold specialist skills in certain fields such as health and care.

The Tier 1 Exceptional Talent route has also been adapted to form the Global Talent route for highly skilled workers, which will allow some very talented people to enter the UK without a job offer if they reach the requirements for a visa and are endorsed by a relevant competent body. 

As the Brexit vote led to a large number of EU workers choosing not to stay in the UK, an emphasis has been put on ensuring the UK works to develop its own technology talent to prevent the UK falling off a “tech talent cliff edge”.

When the points-based system was initially announced, home secretary Priti Patel said the aim of the new rules is to end free movement and “take back control of our boarders”, while attracting talented people from around the world to work in the UK.

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