Personal Immigration

MAC advises on determining right to settlement

Minimum annual pay is the best way to select which highly skilled migrant workers should be eligible for settlement, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has recommended.

The MAC was commissioned by the government in June to identify the most suitable economic criteria for determining which Tier 2 migrant workers could settle permanently in the UK and what the economic effects of restricting or removing settlement rights would be.

The MAC has made the following recommendations:

– a simple pay threshold be used to decide eligibility for automatic settlement among Tier 2 (general) migrants;
– migrants entering through the Tier 1 (exceptional talent) route to proceed to settlement after five years subject to continuing to meet the criteria for that route;
– a pay threshold between £31,000 and £49,000 for Tier 2 (general), set at the time of entry and adjusted for inflation or changes to average pay, would be economically defensible;
– sportspeople should also be subject to the same pay criteria as other migrants under Tier 2 (general); and
– government and businesses should work together to upskill the UK labour market to mitigate the impact of restricting settlement rights.

A number of changes have already been made to the Tier 2 migrant workers route by the government which are likely to see the number of settlement applications fall. Therefore, a 'do nothing' option is defensible but, equally, the MAC believes the government's intention to control settlement numbers is legitimate.

The effects of any change will not be fully felt until 2016. This will allow time for employers and government to work together to upskill the UK workforce in those occupations most affected.

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