UKs migration advisers recommend lower salary threshold for skilled workers

LONDON — The British government should introduce a mixed immigration system after Brexit, with salary thresholds for those arriving with jobs and a points-based system for those without, according to a long-awaited report.

The Migration Advisory Committee, an independent body that reports to the Home Office, said Tuesday that the government should retain the existing visa scheme but recommended a few tweaks, including reducing its current salary threshold for skilled migrants under the so-called Tier 2 visa scheme (the main route for skilled workers looking for employment in the U.K.) from about £30,000 to £25,600.

It also suggested lowering the skills thresholds, abolishing the cap on the number of visas granted annually, and simplifying the application process.

The Tier 2 visa is the main UK visa route for skilled workers coming to the UK to take up employment

Last June, Home Secretary Priti Patel commissioned the MAC to look into how to adapt the Australian points-based immigration system to post-Brexit Britain and also investigate whether to keep a salary threshold for some visa applicants. The government is free to ignore recommendations by the committee but in the past has followed their suggestions.

Many Brexit campaigners saw reducing migration as a key benefit of leaving the European Union, as Britain would no longer be bound by the blocs free movement rules.

MAC Chair Alan Manning said that, if implemented, the committees proposal should lead to fewer migrants moving to the U.K., especially to London, when compared with the arrangements under EU freedom of movement rules. But he added this would also mean a lower rate of growth in population, employment and GDP.

“We estimate very small increases in GDP per capita and productivity, slightly improved public finances, slightly reduced pressures on the NHS, schools and on social housing, though slightly increased pressure on social care,” he said.

This is the second time the MAC has recommended retaining a salary threshold for skilled workers. Manning recognized that this will have an impact on U.K. businesses, but said this is necessary to drive workers wages up.

“We see an important role for salary thresholds in the system. They ensure that there is no undercutting in the labor market and employers are not simply employing migrants because they are cheaper,” he said. “Second, salary thresholds help ensure that migrants are making a net positive contribution to the public finances. And thresholds can also help the government to ensure that migration policy is supportive of the ambition to make the U.K. a high-wage, high-skill, high-productivity economy.”

Points-based system

Workers arriving without a pre-arranged job could apply via a points-based system in which applicants register their interest — as it is the case in Australia. Every month, a number of people in this pool would be invited to submit a full application. In order to limit net migration, the government should set an annual cap on the number of visas granted through this system, MAC said.

The selection would be based on a tradeable points-based scheme, in which applicants would earn points depending on their age, education, if they had studied in the U.K. or worked in priority sectors, such as STEM and creative skills. Language skills should be “an essential requirement,” according to the report.

In response the prime ministers spokesman reiterated the governments commitment to introduce a points-based system.

“The government will introduce a firmer and fairer points-based immigRead More – Source