United Kingdom – MAC Announces Recommendations on Tier 2 Reform

What has changed

On January 19, 2016,  The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) released a report with recommendations for the Tier 2 visa category. The MAC reviewed the Tier 2 visa category after being commissioned by the UK Government to address concerns about the increasing number of migrants using this visa route. The government will now review the report and any changes are likely to be introduced from April 6, 2016.

Who is affected?
What to expect

  •  All clients with Tier 2 migrants

The Tier 2 MAC recommendations announced follow the call for evidence that took place in July 2015. This focused on:

  • options to re-focus the route on areas where there are genuine skills shortages
  • how to limit the time that sectors can remain on a shortage list
  • the implementation of a levy on Tier 2 visas, to fund apprenticeships
  • restrictions on the automatic right of Tier 2 dependents’ to work
  • tightening up on the intra-company transfer (ICT) route, including applying the immigration health surcharge to ICTs
  • raising the minimum salary levels that migrants have to be paid

The Tier 2 MAC recommendations released on January 19, 2016, include the following:

Salary Thresholds – The MAC recommend that the overall minimum salary threshold should be increased to £30,000pa for both Tier 2 (General) and short-term Tier 2 (Intra-Company transfers). For new entrants within Tier 2 (General) and the Graduate Trainee route within Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) route, a lower threshold should be set at £23,000pa. Given that many minimum salaries are currently set below this recommended new figure, this may have an impact on several industry sectors.

Immigration Skills Charge – The MAC recommend that an Immigration Skills Charge be introduced at an amount of £1,000 per year for each visa granted under the Tier 2 category, except Graduate Trainee and Skills Transfer routes within the Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) route.

Shortage Occupation List – The MAC recommends that Tier 2 (General) should not be restricted to a list of genuine skills shortages and highly specialist experts.

There should not be a blanket time limit applied to the shortage occupation list (SOL) and that regular reviews of the SOL should be a sufficiently effective mechanism for testing whether occupations are still in shortage.

Restrictions to Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfers) – The MAC recommend that the required amount of prior experience with the employer outside of the UK should increase from 12 months to two years, except for the graduate trainee and skills transfer routes where the current requirements should be maintained. Certificate of Sponsorship form should be updated to include a field for a description of why the intra-company transferee is required, and the specific skills they have.

The MAC also recommended that all intra-company transferees should be required to pay the Immigration Healthcare surcharge.

Third-party contracting – The MAC recommend that a separate route should be created for third-party contracting under the ICT arrangements and that salary thresholds for short-term third-party contracting should be increased to £41,500pa.

Restrictions to Tier 2 Dependants – The MAC recommend that no restrictions should be applied to dependants’ right to work in the United Kingdom.

Switching into Tier 2 General – The MAC recommended that people switching into Tier 2 General from within the UK be subject to the resident labour market test.

What you need to do
Planning ahead

  • With the annual increase Government fees, the additional surcharges and skills charges are likely to increase overall costs upwards of £5,000 for a family move to the UK.
  • Contact your Emigra Worldwide attorney or representative for further details on how these updates may impact you or your client.

The information above was provided by Emigra Worldwide, our global network partners, and relevant government authorities. The information herein is for general purposes only and not intended as advice for a particular matter. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the global immigration professional with whom you work.