United Kingdom: Migration Advisory Committee Announces Tier 1 Recommendations
The United Kingdom’s Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has recommended a number of changes to the country’s immigration programs for highly skilled foreign nationals under the Points Based System, including adjusting the points allocation for previous salary figures and lowering the minimum education requirement. The MAC’s recommendations will not take effect without further action by the UK government.
The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), the United Kingdom’s independent advisor on migration issues, has recently completed a review of country’s immigration programs under Tier 1 of Points Based System (PBS) for highly skilled foreign nationals. The MAC confirmed that Tier 1 should continue to be used to attract the “brightest and the best” while reiterating that Tier 1 migrants should not displace or undercut employment opportunities of UK workers. As such, it recommended a number of changes to Tier 1. Because the MAC is not a rule-making body, its recommendations will not result in changes to the UK’s immigration policy unless further action is taken by the UK Border Agency or other governmental bodies.
Tier 1 (General) Recommendations
For the general Tier 1 category for highly skilled foreign nationals seeking to be employed or engage in self-employment in the UK, the MAC recommended:
- Allowing foreign nationals with a bachelor’s degree as their highest educational qualification to qualify for the Tier 1 (General) category provided they demonstrate sufficient prior salary levels. If adopted, this would be a reversal to the current policy under Tier 1 (General), which requires a graduate-level degree. If this recommendation is adopted, the previous salary requirements for applicants with only an undergraduate degree will likely be substantially higher than the requirements for applicants with a post-graduate degree or above.
- Reducing the initial duration of stay for Tier 1 (General) migrants to two years, from the current three years. The MAC also recommended that a three-year extension be available for those employed in highly skilled positions.
- That the UK Border Agency should consider allowing an employer to act as a guarantor for a Tier 1 applicant’s maintenance requirement (i.e., offer of financial support if needed). This would be similar to those situations where a Tier 2 employer may provide maintenance within the first month of a Tier 2 migrant starting employment.
- A rapid and thorough review of the salary multipliers used to convert a Tier 1 applicant’s previous salary figures into the UK equivalent.
With these recommendations, the MAC confirmed that Tier 1 should continue to be robust to deal with the changing global economy. The recommendations seek to update the models of calculating foreign salary figures to reflect the current UK gross domestic product per capita, rather than the 2002 levels currently being used for Tier 1 (General). They also seek to exempt applicants with a guaranteed job offer from having to demonstrate sufficient funds in their bank account before entering the UK.
Tier 1 (Post Study Work) Recommendations
Though the MAC acknowledged that the Tier 1 Post Study Work (PSW) category should remain open as a means of recognizing the value of international graduates to UK employers, it recommended that the UK Government commission a detailed analysis of the economic benefits of studying at particular institutions and studying particular subjects, then to review whether applicants from all qualifying institutions or studying any subject should continue to be treated the same under the PSW.
Tier 1 Entrepreneur and Investor Recommendations
The MAC confirmed that there is no current need to change the investment thresholds for either the Entrepreneur or Investor categories of Tier 1. However, it implied that there may be a need to increase the thresholds in the future because the financial thresholds under this category have not increased in line with inflation and global wealth. The MAC did recommend that, within the Entrepreneur category, individuals applying for extensions should provide evidence that they have created, or their investment has lead to the creation of, the equivalent of at least two new full-time jobs for persons settled in the UK.
The MAC reminded the UK Government that immigration enforcement is important to maintain public confidence in the UK’s immigration regime. The concept of good enforcement was introduced by the MAC in its August 2009 report concerning Tier 2. The MAC now recommends:
- Follow-up enforcement activity to ensure that an individual leaves the UK when an application for leave to remain under any Tier 1 is refused.
- Where Tier 1 migrants are employed, adequate checks to verify that employers are viewing and regularly reviewing all relevant documentation and keeping appropriate records in accordance with legislation for the prevention of illegal working.
The MAC’s full report is available at here. The UK Border Agency and other governmental bodies will now review the MAC’s recommendations and are expected to announce whether and how those recommendations will be implemented in the near future. Fragomen is monitoring these developments and will issue updates as they become available.
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