28 September 2018
Migration Advisory Committee Report on post-Brexit immigration policy
The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) have published a report on EEA migration to the UK. The MAC made several recommendations on immigration policy after Brexit including that there should be an end to free movement and that there should be no preferential treatment for EU nationals. Post-Brexit, there are concerns of labour shortages, particularly in the low-skilled sectors (below RQF level 3), but the report does not envisage a separate visa category for these workers, apart from a seasonal scheme for workers in the agricultural sector.
It suggested that post-Brexit, the current Tier 2 system, under which companies sponsor non-EEA migrants to work for them in the UK, is used for all workers. Currently only roles at graduate level (RQF 6) can be sponsored in the Tier 2 category and there is a minimum salary of £30,000 for experienced workers. The report proposes lowering the skill level for sponsorship to RQF 3 but retaining the minimum salary threshold. This would place an administrative burden on companies to acquire a sponsor licence, and also involve significant costs, both in obtaining and maintaining the sponsor licence, and for individual Tier 2 visa applications.
For the last few months, it had become increasingly difficult to obtain Tier 2 (General) visas to bring new hires to the UK. For migrants earning a salary of less than £159,600, the sponsor must apply to the Home Office for a restricted certificate of sponsorship (RCoS) in order to sponsor them on a Tier 2 (General) visa. There is an annual cap of 20,700 RCoS and the Home Office staggers the release of these on a monthly basis. The Home Office would generally grant all RCoS applications meeting the requirements; however, in recent months, due to an increase in RCoS applications, applications for RCoS offering salaries of under around £50,000 were being refused. In July 2018 the Home Office has removed doctors and nurses from the RCoS requirement so it should now become easier to apply for Tier 2 (General) visas for roles offering lower salaries.
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