There are a number of key findings and recommendations in this year’s MAC annual report. The purpose of the report is to inform Parliament and the general public of the work done by the committee and how they used their resources. The report comments on, and makes recommendations relating to, all aspects of the UK immigration system.
Key points from the report
Health and Care Visa route and the Shortage Occupation List
- The MAC is independently reviewing the impact of the end of European Economic Area (EEA) Free Movement on the social care sector in the UK.
- Care workers will now be eligible for sponsor by employers, if paid a minimum annual salary of £20,480. Currently, only senior care workers can be sponsored.
Shortage Occupation List (SOL) and salary rates
- The MAC found that only 15% of roles on the SOL were paid below the market rate for the occupation code. Currently, roles may only be paid 80% of the market rate.
- The MAC recommends that the salary reduction should only apply to the general threshold of £25,600, and that the lower salary threshold should only be used for lower-paid SOL occupations.
Intra-company Transferees and permanent UK residence
- Because the Intra-Company Transfer route is working well, the MAC repeats its suggestion that the route should be eligible for permanent residence in the UK.
Temporary visa routes
- The MAC gave its support to the introduction of temporary visa routes. Examples include temporary visas for HGV drivers and poultry workers.
- The committee recommends that, although these are valuable in the short term, the government should introduce a formal route with clear criteria so that employers can better plan.
Asylum seekers and their inability to work
Under current law, asylum seekers are not allowed to work in the UK if their applications are pending. If their wait exceeds one year, they may apply for permission to work a role on the Shortage Occupation List (SOL).
- The MAC has found that delay in access to the labour market causes long-term damage to an asylum seeker’s societal intergration.
- There is no evidence that giving asylum seekers rights to work will be a ‘pull factor’.
Key takeaways from the report
If the government were to implement the changes suggested by the MAC, there would be several impacts on the UK immigration system and labour market.
- UK employers would have greater access to overseas workers, particularly in the lower-skilled sector.
- A new route for permanent residence would open, bringing more skilled workers permanently to the UK.
- Asylum seekers would have quicker access to the job market, theoretically decreasing the risk of long-term damage to their integration into the UK.
- There would be increased protections for foreign workers.
The MAC’s recommendations would need to become law if they were to be put into effect. It is likely that the Home Office will view and comment on the report in the new year.
Important note: the Home Office is not obliged to take on the MAC’s recommendations.
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