Immigration post-Brexit: MAC report

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has published proposals for a future immigration system for the UK after Brexit.

The report examines how it will be possible for EU nationals to work in the UK in the absence of free movement - its key recommendation being that no preferential access should be given to EEA migrants and any future system should favour higher-skilled EEA nationals.

Among its proposals are the following:

  • The monthly cap of the number of restricted Tier 2 General certificates should be removed, as could the requirement for employers to conduct a resident labour market test before employing newly-hired staff, to be replaced by greater emphasis on salary thresholds and reviewed immigration skills charges.
  • The Tier 2 General immigration category should be re-opened to all jobs requiring skill levels at Recognised Qualification Framework Level 3, currently being reserved to those which would usually require qualification at RQF Level 6 and above.
  • There should no sector-based schemes for lower-skilled migrants to take up specific jobs (apart from a seasonal agricultural workers scheme).
  • The Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme could be extended to a wider pool of countries if a need is identified for more temporary workers in relatively low-skilled roles.
  • More attention should be paid to managing the consequences of migration at a local level.

Jonathan Beech, Managing Director of Migrate UK, comments: ‘It’s questionable how these recommendations will work in practice. The MAC recommends that the framework of the current Points Based System for sponsored workers remains but is thoroughly overhauled and is a blast from the past in places, providing options for some migrant workers not seen since April 2012. Should free movement end, the MAC does not believe EEA citizens should have any preferential treatment over non-EEA workers - however the approach for attracting the “brightest and the best” has shifted somewhat. The MAC recommends opening sponsorship to medium and high skilled workers (jobs at RQF Level 3 and above) and ending the immigration cap which can completely undermine an employer’s forward planning. Furthermore, the MAC suggests that the Resident Labour Market Test (advertising the vacancy for 4 weeks) should be abolished with employers deterred from relying on overseas workers through the immigration skills charge and a robust approach to salary thresholds. For the latter point, the MAC recommends having a minimum threshold of £30,000 for both medium and highly-skilled jobs for experienced workers. With these points in mind, the future of the Shortage Occupation List is in doubt and the MAC will undertake a full review of the composition of the list and publish its findings in the Spring 2019. However, these recommendations are just that and are subject to the final Brexit agreement and whether the UK has the power to formalise its own immigration system’.