Committee suggests scrapping UK skilled migrant cap

A report from the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) suggests that the UK’s current cap on skilled migrants should be scrapped.

The committee recommends that an immigration policy which allows greater access for higher-skilled workers while restricting access for lower-skilled workers should be implemented by the British Government post Brexit. It suggests extending the current scheme for high-skilled non-EEA migrants – known as a Tier 2 visa – to those from EEA countries as well.

Under current rules workers from the European Economic Area (EEA) – which includes all EU countries including the UK, as well as Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein – enjoy freedom of movement, travelling and working within the area without visas. This could (and is expected to) change after Brexit.

However, should the same immigration rules apply for both EEA and non-EEA migrants, then the MAC believes that the cap on the total number of workers allowed to enter under Tier 2 should be abolished and the range of jobs eligible for the visas expanded.

Under current policy, 20,700 high-skilled workers are allowed into the UK each year on Tier 2 visas. The current salary threshold for this visa is £30,000, which the report says should be retained.

When it comes to low-skilled workers, however, the committee says it is “not convinced there needs to be a work route for low-skilled workers” from the EU to fill jobs in industries such as catering or hospitality.

The report also stated that there is no evidence that increased European migration has damaged life in the UK. It found that EU migrants pay more in tax than they receive in benefits, contribute more to the NHS workforce than the healthcare they access, and have no effect on crime rates.

Article published 20th September 2018