UK Tier 2 Report by Migration Advisory Committee

On 19 August 2009 the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) reported into the workings of Tier 2 of the UK's immigration Points Based System (PBS).

The reports says that immigration plays an important role in supporting the UK economy. However, the report recommends the following:

  • The earnings thresholds for gaining points should be raised
  • Jobs should be advertised within the UK for longer
  • The arrangements for intra-company transfers should be strengthened
  • Strong monitoring and enforcement of Tier 2 is also required

Tier 2 allows companies to employ people from outside of the EU, making sure that there are no skill gaps in the British economy.

Chair of the Migration Advisory Committee, Professor David Metcalf said: "In our first analysis of the PBS, the committee thinks that Tier 2 is working well, but our advice to the Government is that the labour market could be helped by requiring higher standards from skilled workers outside of the EU before we allow them to work in the UK.

"We believe that selective immigration that favours skilled workers, as the PBS does, is vital to ensure that the UK continues to be a good place to do business or invest.

However, it is important that British workers are not displaced. We have therefore made a number of recommendations which will help to avoid undercutting and any disincentives to raise the skills of UK workers."

The report finds that overall Tier 2 is well designed for achieving its economic aims. MAC does not believe that major changes need to be made due to the recession.

However MAC feels that some changes are made and that the UK Border Agency (UKBA) considers whether there are enough resources devoted to enforcement and whether penalties need to be increased.

The MAC thought that dependants of PBS immigrants, on the basis of the available evidence, tended to be skilled individuals employed in unskilled or lesser skilled occupations. MAC did not reach any conclusion on any impact on local workers.

The following recommendations are made about Tier 2:

  • UKBA considers whether specific professional qualifications should be regarded as equivalent to National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) level 3, or bachelors or masters degree level when allocating points under the PBS;
  • Masters degree be awarded 15 points in Tier 2, instead of the current 10 points;
  • A requirement that migrant workers outside of the EU will earn £20,000 and workers without qualifications earn at least £32,000
  • A new category to be established for key public service workers, with an added 5 points.

For the Resident Labour Market Test MAC recommends that:

  • This is kept in place;
  • The required duration of vacancy advertising be increased to four weeks for all jobs;
  • The Government considers the scope for introducing a certification regime for at least those employers identified as high risk.

For intra-company transfers MAC recommends that:

  • This is be kept in place;
  • It should not lead to a right to permanent residence;
  • The qualifying period with the company overseas be extended from 6 to 12 months;
  • A separate scheme is created for graduates only which would require 3 months prior experience with the company, but with a maximum stay in the UK of 12 months; and
  • The Government gives consideration to whether the level of resources currently being devoted to enforcement of the intra-company transfers route is sufficient and whether the degree of transparency around enforcement of the system could be increased.