On 10 June 2015, the Home Secretary commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee (“MAC”) to undertake a review of the Tier 2 route of the Points Based System. In 2014, the number of main applicants and dependant family members entering the UK under all of the Tier 2 categories combined, totalled 151,659.

In an effort to curb immigration, the Government has asked the MAC to research into and advise on possible changes that could be implemented pertaining to Tier 2 route. The Government is keen to address concerns regarding the rising number of migrants currently entering and staying in the UK under this route and the UK’s apparent reliance on Tier 2 to fill skills shortages.

TIER 2 OF THE POINTS BASED SYSTEM

Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) and Tier 2 (General) are the main routes used by companies with offices in the UK who would like to bring in foreign workers from outside the European Economic Area (EEA). The current UK immigration system provides for no alternative realistic means of entry for employment purposes should Tier 2 be restricted in any way. We understand that Cameron has to make real changes concerning UK immigration after his previous promises that were not met, but he is going about it the wrong way. To highly restrict the Tier 2 route would mean eliminating the method by which companies bring workers into the UK from outside the EEA. There really would be no other realistic alternative. Therefore, we strongly urge all UK employers to voice their views against these draconian changes.

The MAC will file two reports “little MAC” and “big MAC.” The little MAC consultation has now closed which focusses on recommendations on increasing minimum salary levels across Tier 2. It is likely any changes will be implemented in October 2015. The big MAC report will form the basis of any changes to the Immigration Rules in April 2016 that will restrict your ability to sponsor your preferred candidate if they are not British or from the European Economic Area. This report is due by mid-December 2015 however the deadline for giving evidence to the Committee is 25 September 2015.

WHAT IS EXPECTED IN THE REPORT?

It can be foreseen that widespread reform is sought by the government in relation to the Tier 2 of the points based system. The changes could include:

  • Restricting Tier 2 (General) to roles deemed to be in shortage and highly specialist experts only.
  • Applying a skills levy to fund apprenticeships.
  • Preventing dependants of Tier 2 migrants from working in the UK.
  • Tightening the rules for Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) visas.
  • Applying the NHS Immigration Surcharge to Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) visas.
  • Increasing the minimum salary across Tier 2.
  • Placing tighter restrictions on particular sectors, especially the IT sector.