The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has published its Review of Tier 2: Balancing migrant selectivity, investment in skills and impacts on UK productivity and competitiveness. The MAC was commissioned by the Government to advise on a number of potential changes to Tier 2 to address concerns about the rising number of migrants in that route and reliance on them to fill shortages in the labour market. Tier 2 is the primary route for economic migration to the UK which consists of four routes: Tier 2 (General), Tier 2 (Intra-company transfer), Tier 2 (Minister of religion) and Tier 2 (Sportsperson). The latter two were not included in this report.
The MAC’s main recommendations include:
MAC does not recommend that Tier 2 (General) is restricted only to occupations on an expanded shortage occupation list or that there should be restricting automatic work rights for dependents.
Penningtons Manches and other partners suggested that Tier 2 needs to be made more accessible to start-ups and SMEs, as a start-up may not have the robust HR systems and policies in place to apply for (or maintain) a sponsor licence. Start-ups must obtain licences before they have the resources to monitor compliance themselves. Penningtons Manches raised the point that tech start-ups often rely on investors, accelerators and incubators to assist and advise them on operational functions such as HR and finance so that they can focus on development.
Commenting on the report and recommendations, Pat Saini, head of immigration at Penningtons Manches, said: “The Government should exercise caution when considering MAC’s recommendations. MAC itself recognises that its recommendations, while reducing net migration, will not meet the Government objective as, even if non-EU work net migration was zero, overall net migration would still exceed 250,000.
“Furthermore, some of these recommendations will restrict UK businesses - particularly start-ups - from accessing and employing the talent they need to grow and help plug the skills gap.”
A full copy of the report is available here.