The MAC has today published its report into an annual limit on immigration for skilled and highly skilled non-EEA workers.

The government will consider the report's findings alongside the responses to the UK Border Agency's own consultations on the annual limit. Both will inform the government's decision on how the limit will operate when it is introduced in April 2011.

The MAC has proposed the following in relation to the numerical limit:

  • A limit on the number of Tier 1 Visas in the range of 8,000 to 11,100 in 2011/12
  • A limit on the number of Tier 2 Visas in the range of 29,400 to 32,600 in 2011/12
  • If the government were to include dependants in the overall limit, it has proposed a limit on the number of Tier 1 dependant visas in the range of 6,400 to 8,900 in 2011/12 and a limit on the number of Tier 2 dependant visas in the range of 20,600 to 22,800 in 2011/12

The above figures are calculated on the assumption that all visas (including those of less than 12 months) are covered by the limit.

The MAC recommends that the government should consider:

Policy considerations for Tier 1 (General)

  • The points table should be periodically recalibrated in order to ensure that it appropriately selects the most skilled migrants in the context of an overall limit within the Tier
  • In the first year of the limit the points threshold should be raised
  • Individuals will need to be employed in a skilled graduate level occupation at the extension stage

Policy considerations for Tier 2

  • Visas of under 12 months duration under the intra-company transfer, shortage occupation and resident labour market routes should be excluded if:
  • Individuals are not permitted to switch in-country to other work related categories or
  • If permitted to switch, that the in country residence permits issued are counted towards the out of country limits on Tiers 1 and 2
  • Stringent criteria should be applied to intra-company transfers at extension stage with consideration given to the following:
  • The individual should be a senior manager or have specialist company knowledge over and above the entry requirement of 12 months' prior experience
  • The individual to be employed primarily at the premises of the company that employs them
  • Evidence to be provided that the individual concerned is helping to promote investment in the UK or UK exports
  • The individual being employed in an identified sector or occupation where there is a specific and identified need to retain intra-company transferees for longer than three years
  • More stringent salary criteria being applied than at the initial visa stage
  • Limit the number of visas issued to individuals working for employers corresponding to the number of UK employees
  • An additional criteria on intra-company transfers that they should not be indirectly displacing resident workers
  • In future years, a proportion of visas should be auctioned
  • Employers should be favoured whose net migration is equal to zero or negative (i.e. the number of UK-based employees sent abroad equals or exceeds the number transferred to the UK)

Allowances

  • Allowances used for the points allocation for earnings should be scaled down and consideration given to removing allowances from the overall calculation for points to ensure that migrants make a full contribution to the UK Exchequer.

Resident Labour Market Test

  • Consideration should be given to introducing a certification regime as soon as possible, if practicable.

Shortage Occupation List

  • Occupations on the list should be rigorously reviewed and a revised list to be in place to come into effect in April 2011.

Minimum Skill Level

  • Consideration to be given to increasing the minimum skill level for occupations under Tier 2 from NQF Level 3 to NQF Level 6 (Graduate Level).

Settlement

  • Consideration should be given to whether explicit economic criteria should be applied to decisions regarding whether individuals are allowed to settle in the UK.