In July 2017 the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) was commissioned by the UK government to report on the current and likely future patterns of EEA migration and the impacts of migration to the UK. The findings have now been released in a final report, following in-depth research prompted by a ‘Call for Evidence’ in 2017 as well as the commissioning of external researchers and organisations for comment.
The report indicates that migrants generally have had a very limited impact on overall employment and unemployment levels of the UK-born workforce. However, the report shows that any negative effects tend to relate to individuals working in lower skilled jobs (e.g. seasonal agricultural jobs).
Unsurprisingly, the report suggests that highly-skilled migrants make a positive contribution to the levels of innovation in the receiving country.
The report also recommends that the free movement should end following the transition period of Brexit. The MAC states that if “immigration is not to be part of the negotiations with the EU, and the UK is deciding its migration system in isolation, we recommend moving to a system in which all immigration is managed with no preferential access to EU citizens.”
Currently, the main visa route for businesses to employ their non-EEA population in the UK is under the Points Based System (PBS) via the Tier 2 General and Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) routes. The MAC recommends that should free movement end, and if Tier 2 (General) is extended to cover EEA citizens, abolishing the Tier 2 (General) cap, medium-skilled jobs should be eligible for Tier (2) General, not just high-skilled jobs as at present. This would allow employers to hire migrants into medium-skilled jobs but would also place pressure on earnings in the sector. Notably, the MAC has also suggested that the Immigration Skills Charge (£1000 per person/per year) should also apply to EEA citizens.
Businesses should be aware of the possibility that following Brexit, EEA nationals could very well be brought into a similar scheme as non-EEA nationals.
Please contact Emigra Worldwide should you have any questions.
The full report is available—EEA migration in the UK: Final report.