The Migration Advisory Committee Report
The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) published a long-waited report of their assessment of the EEA migration and recommendations to post-Brexit work immigration system on the 18th September 2018. The Committee states that its recommendations can be achieved by the end of the implementation period during which EU nationals can still exercise their free movement of rights. A new system should come into effect on 1st of January 2021.
The most debatable factor of the report is the conclusion, which states that there should be no preferential treatment to EU citizens. This would initially mean the end of the freedom of movement, making the UK’s immigration less populated by EU migrants themselves. This is one of the areas Brexit was meant to have an effect on by having more controlled migration system in place. Signing out of free movement would, according to MAC, mean that the UK migration would finally be at the nation’s interest.
The other recommendation is having a less restrictive regime for higher-skilled workers coming on Tier 2 (General) as they would benefit the public finances more. The Committee is also recommending that this category will have no preferences over EEA and non-EEA. The MAC recognises that a migrant’s impact on UK depends wholly on other factors than nationality. As it recognises that EU nationals should not receive any different treatment post-Brexit, unless agreed part of a trade agreement, the MAC assumes that this category will be extended to EU nationals under the new immigration system. MAC states that this shift preferring higher-skilled workers aligns with the Government’s industrial strategy published last year as this would add productivity and innovation in the UK. No changes were proposed to the current Intra-Company Transfer scheme. As this would place a big burden on the government and the employees, the MAC recommends changes made to the route listed below:
- Abolition of the Tier 2 (General) cap because of the uncertainty it creates among employers and it makes the migrant workers future as an UK employee uncertain.
- Medium-skilled jobs should be eligible for Tier 2 (General) not just high-skilled jobs at present.
- The salary threshold should be retained even though the recommendation is to expand the list of eligible occupations. This would allow employers to hire migrants into medium-skills jobs but would also require employers to pay salaries that place greater upward pressure on earnings in the sector.
- The Immigration Skills Charge should also cover EEA citizens.
- Abolition of the Resident Labour Market Test which currently requires UK employers to demonstrate that there are no local workers to fill the role wished to be filled in order to hire a non-EU migrant.
- The Immigration Skills Charge of £1000 per year should be applied to EEA migrants.
- The MAC recommends that no immigration category should be brought in for low skilled workers. However, hospitality and catering companies will continue to require low skilled EU workers as there are insufficient local workers. Coincidently, the government has already announced its plans to introduce a new scheme for non-EU nationals to fill in the fruit and vegetable harvesting market.
- The Tier 5 (Youth Mobility) scheme should be opened to EEA migrants. This scheme allows 18-30 year olds from specific countries to come to the UK to work for up to two years. The MAC’s view is that this this will ease the anticipated lower skilled labour shortage. Another recommendation is that the Government should start allowing individuals under the Tier 5 route to switch in-country into the Tier 2 (General) category.
- No significant changes should be made to the Tier 1 immigration categories, which allow investors and entrepreneurs to enter the UK.
It should be noted that the MAC report does not evaluate how the international students should be managed nor whether a new post-study should be created to allow international students with a UK degree to continue residing and working in UK. Although, there has been a need lately to reinstate the Tier 1 (Post Study Work) Visa which allowed graduates to work unrestricted for two years.
The Committee recognises that family migration needs consideration but as the report is primarily focused on economic impacts it does not have enough evidence to comment on family migration thoroughly.
The report does not give any recommendations on how the self-employed on Tier 1 migrants (Exceptional Talent) and Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) should be managed. It only states that they should be ‘better evaluated’ to gain more clarity on how this may apply to EEA self-employed migrants.
The Government has responded that it will ‘carefully consider’ the committee’s proposals. It can be suggested that if these proposals were to be enacted, low-skilled migrations could come to an end resulting from giving priority to middle and higher-skilled workers in areas with labour shortages. This could possibly eliminate all the changes made to the Tier 2 category by the current government over the last decade. Because of this reason it is unlikely that the Government would follow all of the MAC’s proposals exactly.
If you would like to read the full report, please click here for the official Government page. Alternatively, if you have any questions/queries regarding your status as a working EU citizen, please get in touch for a free initial 15-minute consultation and we will discuss the best option for you based on your desired immigration goals.