MAC Recommendations 2016

MACThe long-awaited Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) recommendations on the review of Tier 2 applications has just been released and here are some crucial changes that are likely to take place.

The MAC have advised that a limit is placed on all Tier 2 employment by introducing a ‘price’ model. This means minimum salaries for Tier 2 ICT and Tier 2 General applications are increasing but specific job category pricing are not recommended for change just yet. Other ‘price’ introductions include:

    1. An Immigration Skills Charge (ISC) the level of which needs to be determined by the Government but is recommended to be in the region of an extra £1000 per Tier 2 migrant per year to impact employer behaviour and encourage upskilling / recruitment from the local labour market; and
    2. Introducing the NHS Surcharge for ICT’s;
    3. Investigating whether current NI contributions and tax on migrant worker allowances are working in the interest of the UK.

Another suggested change includes Tier 2 ICT’s, who under the proposals, will need to have at least 2 years of company experience overseas before qualifying for this route (up from one year currently).

The MAC have recommended that a much more detailed job description is included for Tier 2 ICT applications including skill requirements, thus, having the potential to affect thousands of employers.

The MAC have suggested that a new Tier 2 ICT route is introduced for third-party contracting (this will affect the IT industry). Minimum earnings threshold will be raised to £41,500 for all ICT routes under this new category, which is seen as an effective proxy for specialist and senior managers.

The MAC wishes to recommend a more in-depth review of skills shortages within the IT industry going forwards and may recommend the use of the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) to the third-party contacting route and limiting the proportion of Tier 2 migrants to each organisation. This is a longer term view.

Tier 2 General route changes:

  1. The MAC have recommend temporary priority to lower paid public sector workers when current monthly quotas for Tier 2 General Restricted requests are hit;
  2. The MAC also recommend a Resident Labour Market Test – RLMT (advertising the vacancy for 28 days) for in-country switchers from other routes together with including them in an extended quota covering the whole of Tier 2 (General). Currently Tier 4 students switching to Tier 2 General in country are not subject to the RLMT.

For dependants of Tier 2 workers, there is no change recommended to current practice. They can continue to work.

Migrate UK comments that “businesses will now need to rethink their strategy for hiring Tier 2 employees beyond April 6th. We therefore recommend that any applications are submitted prior to April 6th, when the proposed changes are likely to take place. This could potentially save employers many thousands of pounds.”

New UK Immigration Fee Changes Announced

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Yesterday, on 11 January 2016, proposed changes to fees for UK visas, nationality, immigration and Premium Service applications, were announced by the government. The proposed changes will take place throughout 2016-17, with the majority of changes being fee increases rather than reductions.

Such fee changes will apply only after additional legislation is laid before Parliament, which is due to take place by April 2016.

The proposed changes will see visitor, settlement and nationality visa fee increases, however, Tier 2 Sponsor Licences and Certificates of Sponsorship remain unchanged. This aligns with the government’s targets to cut immigration figures without impacting the valuable, Tier 2 skilled workforce. Premium Services will also see increases, with applicants possibly having to decide whether they want to wait for a postal application.

Maximum levels will be set on fee upsurges for categories that the Home Office are able to charge over the coming 4 years, yet, it seems that there will be no increases to the maximum levels themselves.

Migrate UK comment that “the government wants UK Visas and Immigration to become a self-sufficient, self-funded service by 2020 in an attempt to decrease taxpayer contributions.”

2015, A Year In Immigration

CXZ1CeuUEAACnQZWhilst 2015 now feels like a distant memory and the majority of individuals are anticipating the major updates on the 6th April, we mustn’t forget some important announcements that took place in the latter half of 2015.

From the 19th November 2015 sponsors must keep references as evidence of an employee’s previous experience if they are appointed on the basis of this experience.

Another update to the Immigration rules in November requires Tier 2 and 5 authorising officers to be responsible for the activities of all SMS users, thus, they must have a system in place to check such activities.

Managing Director, Jonathan Beech, says that “I would recommend that as a minimum the authorising officer checks the certificates of sponsorship assigned to migrants on a monthly basis, to ensure that they are fulfilling their sponsorship duties”.

Employers must review the current version of the sponsor guidance to ensure that they are aware of any changes that may affect them, for example, they must have an employee who is a level 1 user, in order to ensure that they will be able to fulfil their sponsor duties. Employers must make sure that they are compliant with any requirements that have been introduced since their first licence approval.