In his latest speech on immigration, Prime Minister David Cameron has confirmed that the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) will consider new measures to reduce demand for migrant labour.

MAC is responsible for providing transparent, independent and evidence-based advice to the Government on migration issues.

MAC’s review of Tier 2 is to be split into two parts:

  • early advice on Tier 2 salary thresholds by 21 July 2015
  • a wider review of the Tier 2 routes by mid-December 2015

Minimum salary thresholds for Tier 2

MAC will consider

  • increasing the Tier 2 (General) minimum salary threshold of £20,800 and the Tier 2 (ICT) minimum salary threshold of £24,800 for the short-term category and £41,500 for the long-term category, to levels that better align with salaries paid to highly-specialist experts or individuals filling skills shortages skilled to NQF level 6 or higher
  • increasing the Tier 2 minimum salaries per occupation for experienced workers from the 25th percentile to the 50th or 75th percentiles, or other appropriate measure
  • increasing the Tier 2 minimum salaries per occupation for new entrant workers from the 10th percentile to the 25th or 50th percentiles, or other appropriate measure

MAC has been asked to fast track proposals on raising the salary thresholds of Tier 2 visas in time for the Autumn immigration rule changes. The deadline for submitting evidence to MAC is 3 July. Sponsors should prepare themselves for these changes being implemented.

Wider review of Tier 2

By the end of 2015 MAC will advise the Government on:

  • restricting work visas to genuine skills shortages and highly specialist experts
  • putting a time limit on how long a sector can claim to have a skills shortage
  • a new skills levy on Tier 2 visas to boost funding for UK apprenticeships
  • raising salary thresholds to stop businesses using foreign workers to undercut wages
  • restrictions on the automatic right of Tier 2 dependants to work
  • tightening up the intra company transferee (ICT) route, including applying the immigration health surcharge to ICTs

The deadline for submitting evidence to the wider consultation is yet to be announced. However, it is expected that MAC’s proposals will be delivered by December 2015, allowing the Government to implement any amendments in the April 2016 rule changes.

Many businesses have raised serious concerns regarding these proposals. There is clear evidence that in certain sectors, for example technology where there is a large scale skills shortage, skilled migrants are required not only to help fill the skills shortage but also to upskill British workers.