The government has announced once again reforms to the skilled worker visa. They are trying to convince us this is the way to protect job opportunities for UK residents and reduce UK businesses’ reliance on foreign workers. The changes to the Tier 2 visa are designed to stop businesses using foreign workers to undercut wages, while they hope the changes will continue to support growth and productivity in the UK economy. The reforms will generate further investment in the UK skills base and encourage leading graduates to stay and work in this country once they have finished their studies.
The government commissioned the independent Migration Advisory Committee to advise on reducing economic migration from outside Europe and to look at restricting skilled work visas to genuine skills shortages and highly specialist experts.
Following a series of recommendations put forward by the MAC in January, a package of reforms has been published which includes:
- an increase in the minimum salary threshold for experienced workers using Tier 2, to £25,000 in Autumn 2016 and £30,000 in April 2017 (selected occupations such as nurses, paramedics and some teachers will be exempt from this rise until July 2019)
- the introduction of an immigration skills charge for each non-EEA worker an employer wants to bring to the UK
- new measures that will allow companies to hire more graduate trainees
- simplification of Intra-Company Transfers visas to ensure that international companies only transfer leading senior managers and specialists to the UK
Also, the MAC published a report on nurses being placed on the shortage occupation list. Last year the Home Secretary ordered that nurses should be temporarily added to the list to ease pressure on the NHS while UK staff are trained to fill vacancies. The MAC advised that this should continue and this has been accepted by the government.