Deadline nears for comments on skilled migration

11 Sep 15

UNITED KINGDOM

IMPACT – HIGH

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) is soliciting public comments until Sept. 25 from employers and other stakeholders on potentially wide-ranging changes to government policies on skilled migration.

The U.K. Home Office asked the MAC, an organization made up of senior economists and researchers, to conduct a thorough review of the Tier 2 route with a view toward restricting it to allow fewer migrants into the U.K., and to provide its recommendations before the end of the year. Since significant contraction of business migration routes is a genuine possibility, employer evidence is sought as a matter of urgency.

The MAC has been asked to consider the impact of:

  • Limiting Tier 2 to genuine skills shortages and “highly specialist experts” (potentially limiting Tier 2 visas to a time-limited skills shortage list).
  • Raising salary thresholds.
  • Implementing a skills levy on Tier 2 employers to fund apprenticeships and thereby upskilling the resident labor force (with the aim of reducing the need for migrant labor).
  • Tightening the intra-company transfer (ICT) route and applying the £200 per year immigration health surcharge to ICTs.
  • Restricting the automatic right of Tier 2 dependents to work.

The committee will issue its report in mid-December, after which the government will take action. If the government imposes significant restrictions on the Tier 2 route, employers will face a much harsher environment in which to sponsor both intra-company transferees and local hires.

Background: The sitting government has a long-term agenda to reduce net U.K. immigration from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands. Given the government’s clear intention to stem the reliance on migration to fill U.K. skills shortages, some restrictions on the Tier 2 category for employers and skilled workers appear inevitable; the scope and type of restrictions are still being debated and businesses are encouraged to participate.

The committee has already provided an initial analysis of Tier 2 salaries, published on Aug. 13, weighing the rationale for raising the threshold against the impact on migration, the U.K. economy, and labor and business interests, but the remaining proposals remain open for discussion.

BAL Analysis: The MAC’s call for evidence contains a detailed list of questions on which the committee is seeking feedback. Companies have the option of responding to any or all of the questions directly to the committee in whatever format is convenient. BAL is working with clients and associations regarding the call for evidence. If your company is interested in participating or contributing to those discussions, please contact the BAL professionals whom you work with on a regular basis.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in the United Kingdom. For additional information, please contact uk@balglobal.com.

Copyright © 2016 Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. All rights reserved. Reprinting or digital redistribution to the public is permitted only with the express written permission of Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. For inquiries please contact copyright@balglobal.com.