Update: The survey is now closed – many thanks to everyone who responded, we heard from over 130 of you. Based on those responses we wrote a submission which has been sent to the Migration Advisory Committee and the Home Affairs Select Committee. We are going to keep up the momentum on #SaveSkilledMigration with an open letter shortly.
It is no secret that the government is worried about immigration to the UK. The Tier 2 system for skilled workers with a job offer is already creaking, with 1300 applications turned down in June because the cap on numbers was hit.
What is less well known is that the Prime Minister has commissioned a review with a remit to advise on “significantly reducing the level” of skilled migration to the UK. We believe this could have a major impact on digital startups, who rely on talent from around the world, including outside the EU.
The government’s review is under way, with the MAC’s (Migration Advisory Committee) review looking at the ‘Tier 2’ visa system – these are visas for skilled nationals from outside the EEA, with a definite job offer. The bar is already pretty high – would-be migrants need to have a degree level qualification and a definite job offer, and the company that wants to hire them need to become accredited as sponsors, advertise (non-shortage) roles for 28 days in the UK first, and meet salary thresholds for the role.
But the government wants the MAC to look at going further, including considering:
- Significantly raising the salary threshold. Currently employers need to offer a salary higher than the 25th percentile in the income distribution for that role (eg for software developers that is currently £31,100). But the government has asked what the implications would be of raising this to the 50th or even 75th percentile.
- Restricting what roles are eligible. The MAC have been asked how to restrict Tier 2 to ‘genuine skills shortages’, which could mean scrapping most of Tier 2 altogether and just retaining a version of the Shortage Occupation List.
- Time limits on shortages. Limiting the amount of time a role can be classed as in shortage (to incentivise industry to invest in training to solve that shortage).
- Skills levy. A new skills levy to be imposed on employers who hire from outside the EEA (which would be used to help fund new apprenticeships).
- Restricting rights of dependents. Currently dependents of those on Tier 2 visas have an automatic right to work in the UK; the government wants to look at the impact of removing the right for dependents to work.
The review is taking place over the summer and autumn, with the report going to government in mid-December (and being publicly published in January).
It’s important to remember that the MAC are independent economists who merely advise the government – so the Home Office may ignore some or all of their recommendations. But even so, it is vital that they are equipped with all the evidence and information they need about the impact these changes would have on the UK’s digital economy.
In the past, the MAC has engaged constructively with startups, and we successfully lobbied for digital roles to be added to the Shortage Occupation List and recently met them to discuss their review of the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa.
We need your help to demonstrate why skilled migration is vital to the UK’s digital economy and startup ecosystem. Coadec is writing a submission for the review, and needs to gather evidence about the role of skilled migration in startups.