Immigration Solicitors London

Est. 2002

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RLegal Solicitors, 162-168 Regent Street London W1B 5TG

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The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) today published its report on the possible ‘future points-based system (PBS) and appropriate salary thresholds’ for the UK post-Brexit.

The outgoing Chair, Professor Alan Manning in his forward to the report made comments which have captured headlines, including labelling the existing Tier 2 General system introduced as an Australian points-based system (PBS) as currently a ‘PBS in name only’ and the packaging should be ‘eliminated’.

Professor Manning expects the proposed changes ‘to very slightly increase GDP per capita, productivity, and improve the public finances’ and are expected ‘to reduce pressures on the NHS, schools and on social housing, though they will increase pressure on social care, raise the dependency ratio and have larger impacts on some sectors and areas than others.’

The Chairs comments suggest a difficult route ahead for the government with its attempt to introduce an Australian style immigration PBS which will require trade-offs and merely touches on some huge choices ahead – specifically in social care and challenges for business reliant on low skilled migrants – this translates into large numbers of businesses and individuals livelihoods being impacted.

The MAC recommends a rehaul of Tier 1 (Exceptional) Talent to attract highly skilled individuals - and to the retention and expansion of Tier 2 General to include both EEA and non-EEA nationals, ‘medium-skill’ jobs, ending the ‘Resident Labour Market Test’ and simplifying the process.

It calls for more data and evaluation to enable the UK to monitor the challenge posed by ending free movement and transitioning to a skilled migration system.

We summarise briefly the findings contained within the 278 report, as follows:

  • retain the Tier 2 (General) structure
  • modify the Tier 1 (Exceptional) Talent route – to invite applicants to participate in a monthly draw assessed on a points-based criterion, which can be modified to enable the Government to deal with changing circumstances
  • pause minimum annual salary requirement for settlement under Tier 2 General
  • review requirements for settlement to establish how it is working and identify potential changes
  • salary thresholds to continue to be based on the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings at the higher end
  • general entry threshold to be set at 25th percentile - which would mean a minimum salary of £25,600 for proposed medium-skilled jobs
  • relevant thresholds to apply across the UK
  • salary thresholds not to be pro-rated for part-time workers
  • consider flexibility to allow switching to part-time work for those who become parents
  • review for those holding shares in companies whom they are sponsored by
  • occupations on the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) not to have lower thresholds
  • review of the SOL
  • national pay scales proposed for 24 occupations in health and education
  • lower thresholds for ‘new entrants’
  • new-entrant threshold to apply for five years
  • time spent on Post Study Work should count towards the five-year new entrant threshold
  • add and remove some RQF3+occupations
  • investment in data capability to enable better analysis of trends.

Successive administrations have adopted the MAC’s findings in immigration. It remains to be seen whether the Johnson Government will adopt most or all these recommendations.

In conclusion, changing the current immigration system to a points-based system - so advocated by some will be challenging and will take considerable time to implement – or in other words, will not be so straightforward.

In order to be open for business the MAC recognises the need for ‘middle’ skilled migration but stops short of addressing the concerns of many businesses who require lower skilled workers – the question remains on the table, who will fill these roles post Brexit? In a recent statement Priti Patel, the Home Secretary suggests British workers should be given the opportunity.

The proposed modification of the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent looks to be pointing to the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme and its successor the Tier 1 General route.

An openness to enabling students to remain and work in the UK to address skilled work, although to be welcomed is perhaps a sign of reality – the UK will not only require workers but will be in global war to attract them.

The reference to more data is an acknowledgement that flexibility will be required to model a new immigration system.