The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has just published its latest report – ‘A Points-Based System and Salary Thresholds for Immigration’. The report provides a number of recommendations concerning the UK’s future skills-based work migration system, due to come into force in 2021.
Throughout the 270 page report, the MAC has stressed that availability and access to relevant data has been a serious constraint to its work. It is not surprising to see a number of recommendations in the report on how this issue can be improved.
Workers with a job offer – Tier 2
In relation to migrants who will come to the UK with a job offer, the MAC recommends that the existing framework for Tier 2 (General) is retained.
Minimum salary threshold
It has also recommended lowering the minimum salary, currently set at £30,000. The report provides detailed information on how the new figure would be calculated and, using 2019 figures, the general threshold would be set at around £25,600 if the recommendations are implemented. The threshold for new entrants would be reduced to £17,600 (this is currently £20,800). Sponsors would however still need to pay the amount specified in the relevant SOC code if that was higher.
Those who benefit from the new entrants provisions currently include those aged 26 and under, and those switching from Tier 4 into Tier 2. The MAC has also recommended that the category is widened to include those working towards professional qualifications and those who are moving directly into postdoctoral positions and that the new entrant rate applies for five years, rather than the current three.
The MAC has decided against recommending regional salary variations and has instead recommended a separate pilot visa for ‘remote’ areas of the UK, to be carried out with a full evaluation to understand ‘effectiveness and impacts’.
There are currently restrictions on the percentage of shares those who are sponsored under Tier 2 (General) can own in their sponsoring organisation. The MAC has recommended that these restrictions are reviewed.
The MAC found it ‘impossible to evaluate’ the current settlement system under Tier 2 (General). It has recommended an immediate pause in the proposed increase in the settlement salary threshold and a review of the requirements for settlement in this route.
Workers without a job offer – Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)
For those without a job offer, the MAC recommends that if the Government intends to have a points-based system, it should consider modifying the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route. Its position is that the route in its current form is too narrow and not sufficiently well designed to attract those to whom it is targeted. It recommends as follows:
- introduce an overall annual cap on those admitted;
- operate the route on an expression of interest basis creating a pool of migrants interested in coming to the UK;
- holding a monthly draw from this pool with those selected invited to submit a full application;
- selection should be based on those who have the highest number of points in the pool using a points-based system with tradeable points;
- there should also be an absolute minimum number of points;
- points should be given for characteristics that the Government wants to attract through this route, where other routes are not suitable;
- among the characteristics that the Government might want to consider in assigning points are:
– qualifications with a rigorous process to assess the quality of qualifications and not just the level;
– extra points for having studied in the UK;
– priority areas such as STEM and creative skills.
Whilst the Government does not always implement every recommendation made by the MAC, we can expect that the new future skills-based work migration system will include many of the proposals.
For further information on the MAC’s report or any other aspect of the current immigration system, please contact us.