The report was commissioned before the General Election, but with a specific remit to examine potential Points Based immigration systems which have frequently been mentioned on the news.
The final report contains recommendations for the post Brexit immigration system, but while the group is influential, their findings are not binding on the Government. The main findings of the report were:
- The current Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa could be replaced by a Points Based System. The Committee found that the current visa did not work well and involved too high a threshold for endorsement, which would be supported by the low number of applicants.
- The UK should not simply replicate another country’s system but rather should adopt best practice from several different countries. Examples given are a cap on the number of visas available in certain categories, and requiring potential applicants to express an interest in a visa before the UK invites applications from selected high quality applicants.
- The current Tier 2 sponsorship system, for people with a skilled job offer, should remain in place. The Committee does recommend considering reducing the required salary levels for some roles or extending the period where someone can qualify for the special “New Entrant” reduced salary.
- There is room to trial regionalised systems within the current framework, including potentially lower salaries from individuals working in certain areas. This comes in the same week as the Scottish Government renewed calls for a devolved visa system, so it will be interesting to see if this recommendation is adopted.
One point which is clear in the report, is that the UK Government has limited time available to implement any new system by their target date of 1 January 2021. This means that we can expect a speedy response to the report, although that may not be difficult as during the election numerous Conservative politicians provided information about the proposed new system. In addition, the previous White Paper proposals may still influence the new system so a great deal of work has already been done on the foundations of the system.
Between the MAC report, the White Paper and the comments of Government Ministers, I would expect any new system to follow the general framework set out in my colleague, Pamela Macaulay’s article.
What can businesses do now?
Unfortunately, until there are concrete proposals it is impossible for businesses to fully prepare for any new system. In the meantime the focus should be on retaining existing staff after Brexit while continuing to monitor developments. The current rules will remain in place for the rest of 2020, so there is no need to alter recruitment plans yet.
If you would like strategic advice on how to retain EU staff after Brexit please get in touch.