Big changes to Tier 2 recommended in the Migration Advisory Committee's review
22 January 2016
The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), which advises the government on migration issues, has published a review of Tier 2.
As we mentioned in July 2015 in our blog ‘Tier 2 up for review – your chance to have a say’, the MAC was tasked with carrying out a wide-ranging review of Tier 2, in line with the Government’s objective to reduce overall net migration. In its report, the MAC has recommended a number of measures which, if implemented, who mean a radical shake-up of the current position:
- Increasing minimum salary thresholds from £20,800 to £30,000 per annum, but the minimum for graduates would be lower (£23,000). This could disproportionately impact roles in the public sector and in start-up businesses.
- Introduce an Immigration Skills Charge on all employers who employ migrants on Tier 2 visas (save for those in the graduate trainee and skills transfer routes). The MAC suggested £1,000 per worker when they are sponsored. This is meant to encourage employers to hire and train staff from the local workforce and the charge will provide a source of funding for training.
- Cap on all Tier 2 (General) visas, those applied for from both outside and inside the UK. Currently the monthly cap only applies to those applying from aboard, not those extending their Tier 2 (General) visas or switching into this category. If implemented, this will mean a much more convoluted and lengthier process for those applying for a Tier 2 (General) visa from inside the UK, for example graduates or those wanting to change employer.
- Reform of the Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer) route - as this was intended to be used to bring senior managers and specialists from overseas companies to the UK i.e. not to displace resident workers, the MAC recommends extending the qualifying period spent working in the overseas company from 12 months to 2 years for the short and long term ICT visas. This will mean many employers who want to transfer staff to the UK might have to do so using the Tier 2 (General) route which is a lengthier process. The MAC also recommends that employers using the ICT route enter a more detailed description of the role when assigning a certificate of sponsorship to the worker, as well as the immigration health surcharge applying to Tier 2 (ICT) migrants as well as Tier 2 (General).
- Third-party contracting - to address the widespread use of the Tier 2 (ICT) route to bring over migrants to service third party contracts (typically in the IT sector) the MAC recommends introducing a wholly new visa route for migrants wanting to come here for this purpose, with a higher minimum salary threshold (£41,500) to encourage employers to recruit from and train the local workforce instead.
If these proposals are implemented by the government then all employers who employ workers on a Tier 2 visa will be impacted and the overall effect would be to make it more difficult and costly to employ people who are from outside of the European Economic Area. This can only go so far in reducing the number of migrants in the UK; the MAC notes in its report that even if non-EU work net migration was zero, overall net migration would still exceed a quarter of a million people.
It is not known if and when these recommendations will be implemented so watch out for future Buddy updates on this area.
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