LONDON (Reuters) - Britain should not give preferential treatment to European Union workers in its post-Brexit immigration system but should prioritize the higher-skilled, a report commissioned by the British government said on Tuesday.
Below is a summary of the other main recommendations of the Migration Advisory Committee, an independent body:
- Abolish the cap on the number of migrants under the Tier 2 general visa scheme, currently for graduate-level skilled workers outside the European Economic Area (the EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and Switzerland. The current cap is 20,700 per year.
- If EEA migrants are brought within the Tier 2 visa scheme, it should be extended to medium-skilled workers to avoid harmful skills shortages. The MAC recommends making an additional 142 occupations eligible for Tier 2 general visas.
- Maintain existing annual salary thresholds for migrants to obtain Tier 2 visas, currently 30,000 pounds ($39,500).
- Retain but review the immigration skills fee, under which the government charges employers as much as 1,000 pounds for each foreign worker they employ on a Tier 2 visa.
- Consider abolishing the ‘Resident Labour Market Test’ which requires employers to prove that no worker already in the United Kingdom could fill certain vacancies by advertising roles in Britain for 4 weeks.
The MAC said that if this was not abolished, the government should extend the number of jobs which are exempt from the test by lowering the salary threshold for exemption.
- Review how the current sponsor licensing system works for small and medium-sized businesses.
- Avoid sector-based schemes for lower-skilled workers, with the possible exception of a seasonal agricultural workers scheme. If there is a seasonal agricultural scheme, then the MAC recommends introducing an agricultural minimum wage to put upward pressure on wages and encourage productivity increases.
- If the government wants to provide a backstop for employers of low-skilled workers it could expand the Tier 5 Youth Mobility scheme which currently allows people aged 18-30 from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Monaco, Taiwan, South Korea and Hong Kong to come to the UK for up to 2 years. This could be expanded to EU citizens, the MAC said.
Compiled by Kylie MacLellan; editing by David Stamp