The Tier 2 Riddle

22 Jan 2016

On Tuesday the Migration Advisory Committee published a review of Tier 2 of the points based immigration system. It’s key recommendations are:

  • restrict the number of Tier 2 migrants by raising the minimum salary threshold in the tier from £20,800 to £30,000 (£23,000 for graduate trainees);
  • set the long awaited immigration surcharge at £1,000 per annum per worker (to “incentivise employers to reduce their reliance on employing migrant workers and to invest in training and upskilling UK workers”);
  • extend the qualifying employment under Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfers) to 2 years, scrutinise the roles more carefully and impose the healthcare  surcharge on this tier;
  • close the third party loophole exploited by the IT sector and introduce a contractors category with a minimum salary threshold of £41,500 (“While there is ready access to a pool of highly skilled Indian Nationals, there is little incentive to develop the UK workforce.”)
  • extend the Resident Labour Market Test to in-country switchers;
  • require anyone lobbying for roles to remain on the Shortage Occupation List to submit “more comprehensive” evidence of what they’re doing to address the UK skills shortage.

The message is clear; if you want non-EU workers you’ll have to pay through the nose for them. Beyond that a couple of paragraphs of the review caught my eye:

                “In the context of the Government’s objective to reduce overall net migration, reductions in non-EU work migration can only make a marginal contribution. If non-EU work net migration was zero, overall net migration would still exceed a quarter of a million”

“However, as low paid public sector jobs are more likely to loose out when the limit [the Tier 2 quota] is hit, the Government may wish to consider giving temporary priority to these occupations in the short term. In the longer term, wages in these occupations should rise to reflect their scarcity and there should be no special treatment applied.”

So if you’re a diagnostic radiographer, a sonographer, a nurse, a paramedic, a social worker in children’s and family services, a secondary level maths teacher (all recognised as shortage occupations), the MAC says you should a have a pay rise; and there’s the riddle. How does the government reduce skilled migration to meet its immigration target without increasing costs for business which will disproportionately affect the public sector?