New Changes to the UK’s Points Based System
The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) is an independent advisory body that provides its recommendations on multitudinous issues to the UK Government. Considering these recommendations, the Government then decides to set a policy. The previous Home Secretary requested MAC to proffer its recommendations on what the salary thresholds should be for migrant workers entering the UK and how an Australian style-points based system will function in the UK, as part of the UK’s new immigration policy after Brexit.
On 29th January 2020, Professor Alan Manning, the Chair of MAC wrote to the Home Secretary announcing that the long-awaited report had been released: A Points-Based System and Salary Thresholds for Immigration. The decisive recommendations derived from the report are the following:
- The Tier 2 Visa framework, referring to visas granted to migrants who have been offered to work in a skilled job, should be kept. MAC has proposed that the majority of skilled workers should earn around £25,600 to qualify for a long-term visa, with a reduced salary threshold for those who work in the health sector such as nurses and also teachers. This is a reduction from £30,000 in the current salary threshold for non-EU citizens.
- Workers would still need to meet an occupation specific threshold, which is likely to be higher than before. The occupation specific rate should be set to exclude the lowest 25% of lowest paid workers in each occupation, which is already maintained in the current immigration system for non-EU citizens.
- The general and occupation-specific thresholds should be 30% lower for workers under the age of 26 versus experienced workers. Young workers in some occupations will only need to earn £17,920 as opposed to £20,800 which is the current threshold for experienced workers. MAC proposes that this new ‘entrant-level’ rate should apply for 5 years, as opposed to the current system where it only applies for 3 years.
- MAC rejected the previous government proposal in 2018 being to have lower salaries for jobs on the ‘shortage occupation list’ and regional variation of salary thresholds.
- MAC has a modest view on adopted an Australian-style points-based system (PBS). MAC suggests for those coming to the UK with a job offer, the current employer sponsorship system works completely fine. There will be little profit in using an Australian style PBS, which ranks applicants for certain shortage occupations based on certain characteristics and also where applicants do not require a job offer.
- However, MAC suggests that a PBS will be useful for those who do not have a job offer or who seek to apply for permanent residence after spending a few years within the UK.
- When it came to Tier 1 visas, the committee said the rules “set too high a bar for the definition of ‘exceptional talent’ and is often not a route well-suited for those who satisfy the existing definition”, therefore, they have recommended to modify the current Tier 1 Exceptional Talent rules.
- The MAC also called for an “immediate pause” in proposed increases to the settlement threshold, and a review of the requirements for the settlement.
From these recommendations, a report from Reuters indicates that there may be a slight increment in GDP per Capita, labour productivity and finances and reductions in the growth of the UK population and pressure on the NHS, albeit pressures on social care. Because this is more restrictive than free movement, it is anticipated that the number of EU migrants will be reduced. However, the overall impact remains unclear.
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