Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) – Recommendations In Respect of Tier 1 Points Based System

4th December 2009

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has today published its first review of the highly skilled migration routes (Tier 1) of the governments Points Based System for managed migration.

The 184 page report is a response to the following question posed by the UK government early in 2009:

What further changes to the criteria for Tier 1 should there be in 2010/11, given the changing economic circumstances?

The report concludes that it is in the best interests of the UK economy and labour market for the current routes under Tier 1 to be maintained. However, they have produced a package of recommendations on key areas of Tier 1. These are set out below:

Recommendation 1 – That the Tier 1 (General) route is retained.

Recommendation 2 – That appropriate professional qualifications held in addition to an undergraduate degree are recognised as equivalent to a master’s degree for the purposes of the PBS and that claims that some undergraduate degrees are equivalent to a masters degree are also given consideration on a case by case basis. Note – this will provide opportunity to individuals with specific professional based qualifications to accumulate points under the Tier 1 criteria where they may until now have been denied sufficient points.

Recommendation 3 – That individuals with an undergraduate degree are allowed to enter under Tier 1, subject to an appropriate earnings threshold. Note – no points have been allocated to bachelors qualifications since restrictions were introduced in the early part of 2009 by the UK Border Agency in response to prevailing economic conditions. If recommended, this will make the Tier 1 (General) route available again to a wider number of highly skilled migrants.

Recommendation 4 – That a number of changes be made to the points calibration under Tier 1 (General):-

For age:

  • Those aged 29 and under are awarded 20 points
  • Those aged 30-34, 10 points;
  • Those aged 35-39, 5 points;
  • And no points are awarded to those aged 40 and over;

For qualifications:

  • 30 points awarded for a bachelors degree is reinstated;
  • 35 points continue to be awarded for a masters degree;
  • And points for a PHD are reduced to 45;

For previous earnings:

  • Points are awarded for earnings less than £25,000, and earnings bands are amended;
  • The 5 additional points continue to be awarded as at present for UK experience;

Recommendation 5 – That an additional salary band is introduced with a threshold of £150,000 for which 75 points are awarded. Note – this will mean that applicants who have earned £150,000 in the year preceding the date of applying under Tier 1 (General) will automatically receive the full 75 points required under the scheme.

Recommendation 6 – That the government carries out a full review of the salary conversion models in respect of the multipliers for the country in which the previous earnings have been generated.

Recommendation 7 – That the initial leave to remain entitlement is reduced from 3 years to 2 years, with a 3 year extension subject to evidence that the individual is in highly skilled employment. Note – at present Tier 1 (General) migrants obtain leave to enter or remain for a 3 year period at the outset. This recommendation, if agreed, would introduce a fresh test at extension stage to confirm that the applicant is in a “highly skilled” role.

Recommendation 8 – That the UK Border Agency considers the feasibility of an employer acting as a guarantor for an individual’s maintenance requirement within the Tier 1 (General) route. Note – if accepted, this would remove the need for applicants to produce evidence of a specific amount of money in a bank account for a 3 month period preceding the date of applying.

For the post study work route (PSWR) the following recommendations have been made:-

Recommendation 9 – That the PSWR remains open.

Recommendation 10 – That the period of leave entitlement for the PSWR remains at its current level of 2 years.

Recommendation 11 – That the government commissions detailed analysis of the economic returns to studying at particular institutions and for particular degree subjects. The government should then review whether the current policy with regard to equal PSWR points allowance for graduates of all qualifying institutions and degree subjects should be amended.

For the entrepreneur and investor routes, the following recommendations have been made:-

Recommendation 12 – That the entrepreneur and investor routes remain open.

Recommendation 13 – That the UKBA dedicates sufficient resource to enforcement of the route to allow detailed examination of whether jobs created through the entrepreneur route represented a genuine net increase in jobs. Note – entrepreneurs are required to create employment for at least two settled persons within the UK labour market.

The Chair of the Migration Advisory Committee, Professor David Metcalf, said:-

“The highly skilled route of the Points Based System is very important to the UK economy. Therefore, it should be maintained and improved in order to ensure that the UK continues to attract the brightest and the best”

“We are clear that Tier 1 migrants must not displace or undercut UK workers. Immigration should not serve as a disincentive to employers to invest in training to improve the skills of workers in Britain”

“The recommendations that we have made will ensure that the system is robust enough to deal with the changing global economy and that the UK remains attractive for foreign investment.”

Next Steps

It now falls to the government to consider the report and to decide if and when to implement the MAC recommendations. The changes, if approved, are likely to be implemented in the first quarter of 2010.