Today the Migration Advisory Committee has published its report, christened as 'Big MAC', into revising the Tier 2 system to govern entry for work in the UK, by non-EEA nationals. It is hot off the press, so here are the headline conclusions:
- The MAC advises against too much focus on an expanded shortage occupation list, regarding this as too complex and unwieldy (not that that consideration would necessarily bother the Byzantine policy makers at UKVI)
- The minimum salary threshold should be significantly increased to £30k for experience workers and £23k for new entrants across the board.
- Firms that use migrant labour should pay a 'skills' charge of £1000 per year. Significantly increasing the cost of a Tier 2 visa.
- Intra-company transfers should be restricted and firms prevented from under-cutting resident labour through mass transfers
- The Shortage Occupation List will continue to be reviewed by the MAC rather than jobs being automatically removed after a set time (sun-setting)
- Dependants should continue to enjoy permission to work
- The monthly cap on certificates of sponsorship should be extended to in-country applications
Perhaps not quite as brutal as some were expecting. One thing you can be sure of, if these changes are to be implemented it will be a hideous hotchpotch of complex transitional provisions and phased rule changes that will keep lawyers in work for years.
In addition Professor David Metcalf's opening summary is particularly revealing. The changes proposed if applied in the year to August 2015 would have excluded 27,800 people from coming to the UK, of which 12000 were short-term intra-company transfers (people therefore who cannot settle here). Given that the Government wants to reduce net migration to 100,000 from current levels of 300,000, it is not hard to see that these changes will have little impact on that figure, which therefore leads to questions about the utility of bringing in such changes in the first place.