In July 2017, the Home Secretary commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to report on the economic and social impacts of EEA migration with the intention to provide an evidence base for the design of a new EEA immigration system. The MAC have issued their final report.
No preference for EEA migrants
The MAC's key recommendation is no preferential access should be given to EEA migrants and any future system should favour higher skilled EEA nationals.
Additional costs to business
The MAC recommends that EEA nationals entering after the transition period should fall within the same Tier 2 system currently in place for non-EEA nationals, even though they acknowledge that employers find this system to be extremely costly and bureaucratic.
In addition it is recommended that the existing Immigration Skills Charge (ISC) will apply equally to the employers of EEA migrants entering after the transition period. This would be a substantial additional cost to employers as the ISC is £1820 for a five year visa for small companies or £5000 for large companies.
Although it is recommended that the Tier 2 route should be open to jobs at a lower skill level than previously (RQF3) and that the Shortage Occupation List will be reviewed, it is recommended that the minimum salary level of £30,000 per year is maintained, meaning that EEA nationals in certain sectors and working for smaller businesses are likely to be excluded on the basis of salary.
The MAC states that there should be no sector-based schemes for lower skilled workers (apart from a Seasonal Agricultural Workers scheme) however this is likely to be highly contested by employers in certain sectors.
The MAC has stated that they will review the ISC and the way that the Tier 2 route works for small and medium businesses, who are likely to be the most impacted by an imposition of additional costs.
Abolition of Tier 2 cap
But it is not all bad news for business. The MAC has recommended the abolition of the cap on the number of migrants under Tier 2 (General) route, which caused significant delays due to being oversubscribed between December 2017 and July 2018.
They also recommend that the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) is abolished or alternatively to lower the salary level significant for exemption to the RLMT. This would greatly cut down on red tape for employers and expand the group of eligible candidates.
Finally, it is recommended that the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme will be extended to a wider pool of countries. This route enables nationals of certain countries aged 18-30 to work in the UK for up to two years for any employer.