UNITED KINGDOM – Migration Advisory Committee Recommends Scrapping Resident Labor Market Test and Tier 2 (General) Cap
On 18 September 2018, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) published its much-anticipated report on the impact of migration from the European Economic Area (EEA).
The report made immigration policy recommendations based on one possible outcome of the Brexit negotiations – the end of freedom of movement of EEA nationals into the United Kingdom, and the United Kingdom deciding a post-Brexit immigration system separately from negotiations with the European Union. It did not advocate this as the most desirable form of Brexit.
In this scenario, the report recommended that EEA nationals are given no special treatment by the immigration system, but that high-skilled migration into the United Kingdom is encouraged, most notably by abolishing the cap on the number of migrants under Tier 2 (General).
Below is a summary of its recommendations for a post-freedom of movement UK immigration system:
• The general principle behind migration policy changes should be to make it easier for higher-skilled workers to migrate to the United Kingdom than lower-skilled workers;
• No preference for EU citizens, on the assumption that UK immigration policy is not included in the agreement with the European Union;
• Abolish the cap on the number of migrants under Tier 2 (General);
• Tier 2 (General) to be open to all jobs at RQF3 and above (i.e., extended to medium-skilled jobs, not just high-skilled jobs as at present);
• Maintain existing salary thresholds for all migrants in Tier 2;
• Retain but review the Immigration Skills Charge, so that it also covers EEA nationals;
• Consider abolition of the Resident Labor Market Test. If it is not abolished, extend the numbers of migrants who are exempt through lowering the salary required for exemption. Make in-country change of employer easier for Tier 2 migrants;
• Review how the current sponsor licensing system works for small and medium-sized businesses;
• Consult more systematically with users of the visa system to ensure it works as smoothly as possible;
• For lower-skilled workers avoid Sector-Based Schemes, with the potential exception of a Seasonal Agricultural Workers scheme (SAWS);
• If a SAWS scheme is reintroduced, ensure upward pressure on wages via an agricultural minimum wage to encourage increases in productivity;
• If a “backstop” is considered necessary to fill low-skilled roles, extend the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme;
• Monitor and evaluate the impact of migration policies; and
• Pay more attention to managing the consequences of migration at a local level.
Employers in the United Kingdom need take no action on the basis of this advisory report but should be prepared for as-yet unknown changes to the UK immigration system, as a result of the Brexit process, in the near future.