UK Migration Committee Recommends Uncapping Tier 2 Visas After Brexit

UK Migration Committee Recommends Uncapping Tier 2 Visas After Brexit

The UK government’s Migration Advisory Committee issued a report this week assessing the impact of immigration from the European Economic Area and suggesting ways for the government to reform immigration policy in preparation for the UK’s exit from the European Union next March. Once Brexit is fully implemented in 2020, freedom of movement is expected to end between the UK and the EU, meaning UK employers will no longer be able to seamlessly recruit workers from other European countries, which employers fear may lead to labor shortages in a range of industries from agriculture and construction to hospitality, health care, and finance.

The MAC report concludes that there is no need for the UK to continue to have separate immigration rules for EU/EEA citizens and migrants from other countries. The committee’s main recommendation for alleviating these potential shortages is to remove the cap on Tier 2 skilled-worker visas, People Management explains:

Along with ending the Tier 2 (General) visa cap, the report also suggested extending Tier 2 eligibility to medium-skilled roles and abolishing the resident market test list but retaining the £30,000 salary threshold. It added the immigration skills charge should also cover EEA citizens. The report noted these changes “would allow employers to hire migrants into medium-skill jobs but would also require employers to pay salaries that place greater upward pressure on earnings in the sectors”.

Tier 2 visas became a concern for employers earlier this year as restricted certificates of sponsorship – which must be obtained by UK employers hiring non-EEA staff – were continuously oversubscribed for in the first half of 2018. Pressure on the system only eased after the government removed NHS doctors and nurses from the cap.

The main upshot of this proposal is that highly skilled talent would be relatively easy to recruit from other countries, but low-skill workers would not. Writing at Personnel Today, Kerry Garcia and Jackie Penlington from the law firm Stevens & Bolton LLP take a closer look at what the MAC’s scheme would mean for employers:

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Britain’s Other Immigrant Worker Debate

Britain’s Other Immigrant Worker Debate

The prospect of the UK leaving the European Union has employers there in a panic, as many of the over 2 million EU citizens currently working in the UK could lose their right to work there, creating chaos in the labor market. But in addition to the “Brexit” referendum, the UK has also introduced new visa restrictions that make it harder for non-European skilled workers to live and work in Great Britain. The Washington Post’s Karla Adam outlines the recent changes and what they mean for foreign workers:

The new rules require immigrants on skilled-worker visas from non-European countries, including Americans such as [Shannon] Harmon, to earn at least 35,000 pounds if they want to settle here. Critics of Britain’s immigration policies say that the country is, effectively, rolling up the welcome mat for non-Europeans who do not make enough. “For me, getting a raise from 25K to 35K is pretty unimaginable,” says Harmon, a 33-year-old with bright red hair who wants to stay in the United Kingdom but earns only 25,000 pounds. She is a driving force behind Stop35k, a grass-roots campaign against new visa restrictions that triggered a debate in Parliament.

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