UNITED KINGDOM: Migration Advisory Committee Recommends Limiting Points-Based System to Skilled Workers Without Job Offer
The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) – the Home Office appointed independent immigration advisory body – has published its report, responding to the government’s request to consider how a points-based system (PBS) could be introduced in the UK, and to review salary thresholds for immigration.
The report is likely to influence the government’s plans for a post-Brexit immigration system, to take effect at the end of the Withdrawal Agreement transition period (1 January 2021), in which EU nationals will be covered by the same rules as non-EU nationals.
Note that EU citizens arriving in the UK by 31 December 2020 will have until 30 June 2021 to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK.
In 2019, the MAC recommended removing the Tier 2 (General) visa cap and the Resident Labour Market Test, and expanding the Tier 2 (General) route to include lower-skilled jobs.
The MAC recommends that the government retain the existing Tier 2 (General) work visa system for sponsored workers with a job offer, albeit with the minimum salary threshold reduced to around £25,600, rather than the £30,000 recommended in the MAC’s last major report. The threshold for lower-salaried new entrants should be 30% lower. On the other hand, the report suggests that, if the government wants to introduce a PBS on entry, it should consider modifying the current Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route for skilled workers without a job offer, implementing an expression of interest system in which those who want to come to the UK can register their interest and a monthly invitation to apply can be drawn from that pool, subject to a cap. However, the government has already announced amendments to the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route, to be introduced on 20 February 2020. The MAC suggests that occupations on the Shortage Occupations List (SOL) should not have lower salary thresholds for entry, and recommends a review of whether the SOL is still needed after the new immigration system has been fully introduced. The report recommends a review of the rules for settlement, and a pause in the proposed increases to the settlement income threshold.