End Tier 2 cap but hands-off ICTs, ministers told

Intra Company Transfers must stay as they are but Tier 2’s cap should end, in what an IT agency body says is a “both good and bad” package of immigration recommendations.

Tabled to ministers, the government-commissioned package has raised eyebrows for proposing to also end low-skilled immigration, or at least enforce a “more restrictive policy.”

The Recruitment & Employment Confederation, whose member companies include IT recruiters, regards this as the “bad news” for agencies, especially in sectors like social care.  

No economic 'need'

Justifying its recommendation, the Migration Advisory Committee said it had found insufficient economic evidence to justify “a need” for the UK to a have a low-skills route.

The bad news, though, as far as IT contractors are likely to be concerned is that Intra Company Transfers, the most popular tech work permit, will not be tightened or tweaked.

It seems that the MAC is content that its previous toughening of the ICT system, effective since last April in the shape of a higher salary threshold, is enough to stem ‘undercutting.’

'Good news'

The impact on wages was looked at by the committee however, albeit only in terms of EU arrivals, and “no evidence” was found of adverse consequences for UK-born workers, “on average.”

Putting this on record, while similarly acknowledging that employment and training opportunities for UK-born workers have not suffered either, is “the good news,” said REC.

The confederation is also pleased at the MAC’s recommendation to completely remove the Tier 2 (highly-skilled) visa cap, partly to make it easier for Tier 2 holders to move between jobs.

'Medium-skilled jobs'

Getting rid of the cap will also stop the current “uncertainty among employers,” and for migrants, end them from having to go from being of value -- to ineligible, when the cap binds.

Tier 2 should also be extended to workers in “medium-skilled jobs”, the MAC adds, and employers should potentially be allowed to forego the Resident Labour Market Test.

The tier was used by the committee to explain its other headline finding.

Specifically that; just as Tier 2 does not discriminate in the nationality of its non-EEA applicants, the UK’s post-Brexit immigration system as a whole should not either.

'No preferential access'

So the MAC wants ministers to end the currently preferential treatment that EU works enjoy, when it comes to who can work and live in the UK.

“We recommend moving to a system in which all migration is managed with no preferential access to EU citizens,” ministers are told by the committee, which cited Canada as an example.

“Ending free movement would not mean that visa-free travel for EEA citizens would end, just that a visa would be needed to settle in the UK for any period of time and to work as is the case for the citizens of some non-EEA countries at the moment.”

'Winners and losers'

Reflecting on his report, the MAC’s Professor Alan Manning said: “There is no way to change the migration system without creating winners and losers.

“But we believe the UK should focus on enabling higher-skilled migration coupled with a more restrictive policy on lower-skilled migration in the design of its post-Brexit system.”

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Written by Simon Moore

Simon writes impartial news and engaging features for the contractor industry, covering, IR35, the loan charge and general tax and legislation.
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