On February 28 2012, following extensive consultation with interested parties, the Migration Advisory Committee published its recommendations on Tier 2 limits and other issues.

One of the issues on which the committee was asked to advise was the raising of the Tier 2 skill level to National Qualifications Framework Level 6 or higher (NQF6+) from the existing threshold of National Qualifications Framework Level 4 or higher. This would have the effect of removing a number of occupations from the UK Border Agency's graduate occupation list. The committee has found that 32 occupation codes do not meet the criteria for NQF6+ and will be removed from the list if the UK Border Agency follows the committee's recommendations. These include financial and accounting technicians, marketing associate professionals and business-related professionals not classified elsewhere. However, the committee indicated that specific jobs within the at-risk codes may still qualify for NQF6+, particularly if the salary is at a higher level. The committee has expressed its willingness to review the skill level of the relevant occupations.

On a positive note, journalists and newspaper and periodical editors, public relations officers, physiotherapists and nurses have now been ranked as meeting the NQF6+ criteria, whereas previously they did not. Moreover, the committee considers the £40,000 salary threshold to be an appropriate test of skill, and including allowances within this does not downgrade the salary threshold as a test of skill. The committee is not recommending regional variations in salary.

With regard to the annual limit for the Tier 2 (General) category, the committee recommends retaining the current level (ie, 20,700) for 2012/2013.

As for the resident labour market test, the committee has made recommendations for positions paying between £70,000 and £150,000. If they are adopted, the requirement to advertise on JobCentre Plus will be removed, but sponsors will still be required to advertise the position in a suitable medium and advertisements will be required to run for the existing 28-day period.

The committee has made no specific recommendations with regard to the shortage occupation list, although it has proposed some ideas, including a limit on the period for which occupations remain on the list.

For further information on this topic please contact Ilda De Sousa at Kingsley Napley by telephone (+44 20 7814 1200), fax (+44 20 7490 2288) or email ([email protected]). The Kingsley Napley website can be accessed at www.kingsleynapley.co.uk.