MAC recommends that current Tier 2 limit remains the same

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has recommended that no change should be made to the 2011 limit on non-EEA, skilled workers wishing to take up employment in the UK under Tier 2 (General) of the Points Based System (PBS).

The limit is currently 20,700 and estimates suggest that in the 12 months before April 2012, the number of Tier 2 (General) visas issued was close to 10,000, meaning the system is undersubscribed and currently running at half capacity. To try and reduce the number of skilled migrants coming to the UK under Tier 2 would therefore involve substantial cuts being made to the already low figure, an action the MAC describes as potentially being “economically damaging”.

The MAC believes that cutting the limit further would only reinforce the perception that the UK is seeking to exclude valuable, skilled workers.

Other findings and recommendations made by the MAC are:

  • No change need be made to existing policy concerning the number of intra-company transfers, but the MAC suggests it should be kept under review and the use of intra-company transfers for third-party contracting should be monitored closely.
  • Highly-paid and PhD-level jobs should be exempt from the Resident Labour Market Test requirement to advertise in Jobcentre Plus.
  • Raising the required skill level for Tier 2 migrants from National Qualification Framework Level 4 to National Qualification Framework Level 6 would cut the number of occupations that qualify for Tier 2 visas from 121 to 89. This would exclude occupations such as office managers, IT technicians and health and safety officers. The MAC estimates that this would reduce inflows through Tier 2 by 7%.

The MAC has highlighted that Tier 2 (General) migrants account for just a small proportion of net migration into the UK, and that further restrictions imposed on this category could only make limited contributions to the Government”s objectives, while reducing the Tier 2 (General) limit could have a negative impact on the UK economy.

The Government is already implementing numerous rule changes which will come into force from April 2012, in order to try and lower net migration.  We have summarised some of the changes here and will be reporting on others in the coming weeks.

If you wish to discuss any of the forthcoming policy changes, please contact us.

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