MAC looking into reducing Tier 2 migrationThe Prime Minister, David Cameron, has announced the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) will be looking at new measures to reduce the demand for migrant labour as part of his ongoing efforts to reduce non-EEA migration.
The MAC has been told to look into proposals which will encourage employers to recruit British workers over non-EEA migrants. This list of proposals is likely to include:
- an increase in funding for apprenticeships which will be paid for by a new levy on Tier 2 visa applications
- an increase in the minimum salary thresholds for migrant workers
- an review of the criteria for occupations to be included on the skills shortage list.
It is expected that the changes to salary thresholds for visa applications made under Tier 2 will be fast-tracked through government so they can be implemented later in the year. This means migrants hoping to come to the UK will need to secure higher salaries from their sponsoring employers.
The new levy on Tier 2 visa applications follows on the new health surcharge recently introduced which means visa applications are becoming increasingly expensive. They government have not announced any details of how the money from the Tier 2 levy will be spent on funding apprenticeships, or which sectors they will focus training on.
It is likely that the changes will lead to a smaller number of occupations being included on the skilled occupations shortage list which means companies will have a harder time meeting the requirements to sponsor migrant workers for Tier 2 visas. Other proposals include limiting the length of time a business sector can claim to have a skills shortage, which means skilled migrants would face a time limit on when they could come to the UK.
It is interesting to note that whilst the Home Office are trying to limit the number of skilled migrants coming in to the UK the Department for Work and Pensions have published reports saying, ‘a sharp rise in skills shortages could be holding back the UK’s economic recovery’.
The specific questions the MAC have been asked to consider, which will directly affect future changes to the Immigration Rules are:
- options to re-focus the route on areas where there are genuine skills shortages or require highly-specialised experts
- how to limit the time that sectors are deemed to be in shortage
- the implementation of a levy on Tier 2 visas, to fund apprenticeships
- restrictions on the automatic right of Tier 2 dependants to work
- tightening up on the intra company transferee (ICT) route, including applying the immigration health surcharge to ICTs
- raising the minimum salary levels that economic migrants have to be paid