The salary threshold of foreign workers who came to work in the UK under the Tier 2 immigration program may be increased significantly if the government follows recent recommendations.
The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has published their recommendations towards a review of the Tier 2 programme, which is designed to facilitate the hiring of skilled workers in the UK.
Most notably, it has advised an increase of the salary threshold of experienced workers from £20,800 (Dh108,449) to £30,000 (Dh156,417). New entrees would be required to earn a minimum of £23,000 (Dh119,919) per year.
Although these are mere recommendations and there is no confirmation whether these changes will be implemented, the increase has been discussed and criticised over the last few months, as Tier 2 restrictions are considered harmful to local companies.
“The above proposed increases to the minimum salary thresholds are likely to have the greatest impact on smaller businesses, start-ups and the creative, architectural, public and IT sectors, who may need the skills that migrants can offer but are unable to pay the inflated rate against other possible cost increases,” commented Newland Chase, a UK-based immigration consultancy office.
Indeed, MAC itself had advised against the increase earlier, stating that “the government should think twice before taking steps to increase thresholds”, adding that immediate implementation would receive strong opposition from employers and serious problems across many industry sectors.
Coming back to this point, the committee stated in its report that immediate implementation was not recommended and that instead a more gradual approach would be more suitable, where the amount would increase over time.
According to critics, companies in the UK are finding it difficult to attract foreign talent under the Tier programme as restrictions have been adding up in a drive to bring back the net immigration numbers in the UK.
However, foreign labour is in many industries essential, as the needed skills are not found in the country.
On April 6 this year, the salary threshold that determines whether a skilled worker can apply for indefinite leave to remain will be raised to £35,000 (Dh182,486).
Among the MC recommendations was also the levying of a new charge named the Immigration Skills Charge (ISC) applicable to all those applying under Tier 2, except for the Tier 2 (ICT – Skills Transfer) and (Graduate Trainee) subcategories.