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Migration Advisory Committee publishes recommendations on points based system and tier 2 salary thresholds

Posted: 28/01/2020


The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) published its report on two commissions today: one on the role of a points-based system, and one on the appropriate level and design of salary thresholds. Both commissions are about the UK’s future skills-based work migration system to be introduced after the end of the Brexit transition period – 2021 at the earliest.

On the points-based system the MAC recommends that:

  • the Tier 2 (General) route remains, referring to it as the skilled worker route with a job offer
  • changes be made to the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route, referring to it as the skilled worker route without a job offer  

Tier 2 (General)

The MAC has made the following recommendations:

  • a national minimum salary threshold of approximately £25,600 and a new entrant rate of approximately £17,900
  • extending the time an applicant can be sponsored as a new entrant from three years to five years
  • new entrants can include those working towards recognised professional qualifications and those who are moving directly into postdoctoral positons   
  • no specific regional salary levels, instead a visa for ‘remote’ areas to encourage recruitment and retention of employees
  • the minimum salary threshold for ILR should be paused at £35,800
  • a review of the requirements for ILR
  • salary levels should only take into consideration base salary (therefore employees will not be able to add guaranteed allowances)
  • a review of the rules regarding Tier 2 employees owning equity

In addition to the above, the MAC re-confirmed the following:

  • a reduction in the skill level for Tier 2 from RQF level 6 to RQF level 3+
  • abolishment of the Tier 2 General cap
  • removal of the resident labour market test requirement (advertising)

Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)

Although the MAC has made recommendations on the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route, it should be noted that the Government has already announced that a new Global Talent visa will be introduced from 20 February 2020. This route will replace the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent). Under this route:

  • top scientists, researchers and mathematicians will now be included and be given fast tracked entry to the UK
  • there will be no minimum cap on the number of visas allowed under this category
  • UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) will endorse applicants from the scientific and research community 
  • applicants will continue to be allowed to bring in dependants who will have full access to the labour market
  • there will be no requirement to hold a job offer
  • some applicants may qualify for accelerated settlement after three years
  • an exemption from the ILR absences rules will be included for researchers, and their dependants, where they are required overseas for work-related purposes.

Further details on the new Global Talent visa and the impact that this will have on the criteria for the existing designated competent bodies will be available on 30 January 2020.


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