Migration Advisory Committee urges caution over immigration reforms

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has urged the government to tread carefully when considering raising the minimum salary threshold for migrants taking the Tier 2 visa route.

Visa image
In the report, Review of Tier 2: An analysis of salary thresholds, the MAC said that it prefers occupation-specific salary thresholds to a blanket minimum figure. It didn't set out minimum salaries for specific roles at this stage, however.The preliminary report, which was commissioned by the government investigate concerns about the number of Tier 2 migrants, will be followed up with a wider review later in the year.The MAC did, however, say that there "is a good case for increasing the overall minimum threshold for Tier 2 (General) – currently £20,800 - because this was calculated in 2009 when the skill requirement for migrant workers was much lower than it is now."The MAC said it has found little evidence suggesting that there's widespread undercutting of British workers by Tier 2 migrants, though it did caution that this finding is subject to further investigation being undertaken as part of the wider review.Chair of the MAC Professor Sir David Metcalf CBE said, "The MAC's focus in this report is on analysis rather than recommendations. We have examined the evidence concerning the possibility that migrants undercut British residents and we set out the possible reduction in skilled migrant inflows if the pay thresholds were raised from current levels."We urge the government to be cautious in making any significant changes to the salary thresholds at this stage because they should not be considered in  isolation. Salary thresholds are closely linked with other issues the government has asked the MAC to consider in its wider review, including proposals for an immigration skills charge on migrant workers."Our recommendations on the Tier 2 route will be published after we have examined in full the extensive evidence of the impact of raising pay thresholds on particular companies and organisations."The MAC also said that further work needs to be done to consider the Tier 2 monthly visa limit being hit in both June and July. It expressed concern that applications for lower-paying occupations not on the Shortage Occupation List are more likely to be refused. The MAC suggested that some professions, such as healthcare roles and graduate recruitment schemes, might be separated from the Tier 2 route as a short-term measure.The MAC receieved evidence from business heavyweights including Asda, Lloyds Banking Group, Rolls-Royce and Siemens. In its report, the MAC said, "There is little doubt that an immediate introduction of a salary threshold at this level would be strongly opposed by many employers and would cause serious problems in particular sectors."PwC warned that increasing salary requirements would drive firms overseas, hurting not just employees but also supply chains. London First said that start-ups would be "very hard hit", warning that they could begin setting up elsewhere. Rolls Royce said that graduate recruitment could be throttled, going so far as to say that Tier 2 salary threshold changes could abolish the entry-level rate.For more news and stories like this, see Re:locate's Immigration and Enterprise sections.

Related Articles