Last month, the Migration Advisory Committee produced its long-awaited report.

The report was focused on the impact of European Economic Area migration to the UK and was commissioned by the then home secretary Amber Rudd with the purpose of looking at the post-Brexit migration system. So what does this report tell us?

The report highlights the importance of high-skilled migrant workers, and the positive impact they have by contributing £2,300 more than the average adult to public finances. It also states that EU workers should be subject to the same visa rules as other non-EU migrants who wish to come to the UK – in other words, one system for everybody. The committee also says the UK should adopt a migration system similar to the one that exists in Canada, which is relatively open.

In relation to high-skilled workers, the report suggests that the Tier 2 visa route, which is the system in place to recruit non-EU migrants, is maintained, but with some key fundamental changes: These changes are:

  • This Tier 2 route is used to cover EU citizens. At present EU citizens are exempt from the route under EU law.
  • Abolish the Tier 2 (General) cap. Currently there is a cap on the number of visas that are available using this route at 20,700 per year, which equates to 1725 visa per month.
  • Extend the scheme to include medium-skilled jobs. At present only highly-skilled jobs which are at NQF (National Qualification Framework) Level 6 or above are permitted to use this route (unless they are on the shortage occupation list). Therefore jobs such as working in teaching, healthcare and accountancy would fall within this category. By extending the scheme to include NQF Level 3 a further 140 occupations would be included within the list.
  • Retain the minimum salary threshold of £30,000.00. At present there is a minimum salary for Tier 2 jobs which is £30,000.00. The report says employers must demonstrate that they are not undercutting the industry standard. It should also be noted that the higher the salary the more the points the job is awarded under the Tier 2 scheme.
  • Maintain the Immigration Skills Charge for EU citizens.At present employers must pay a minimum of £364 (for small and charitable sponsors) or up to £1000 when they issue a new certificate of sponsorship to a migrant worker who comes from outside the UK.
  • Abolish the Residents Labour Market Test. Prior to an organisation employing a migrant worker, they must advertise the vacant position on certain websites or in hard copy print. The purpose of this is to give any UK-born resident the best chance of applying for the job first.
  • Making it easier for employees to change employers. At present should a migrant who is on a Tier 2 visa decide to change jobs, their new employer will need to give them a certificate of sponsorship.

At the same time, the report also encourages youth mobility and a separate scheme for seasonal farm workers. It does not recommend an employer-led visa route for all low-skilled work. What it does state is that it is important to encourage employers to compete on wages and work conditions to make their sector more attractive.

The report goes on to add that the public sector should be treated in the same way as the private sector.

As can be seen, there is mixed news here. What is clear is that businesses will need a sponsor license. This is something that Lupton Fawcett can assist you with, whether you already have a sponsor license or wish to know how to get the most out of this system.

In conclusion, the committee believes that their suggested amendments would mean that businesses in the UK would still be able to access an international pool of talent. It further hopes to prevent employers from using migrant workers to undercut the wages of UK-born employees.

Please note this information is provided by way of example and may not be complete and is certainly not intended to constitute legal advice. You should take bespoke advice for your circumstances.

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