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Australian Points Based System

Influential committee recommends only limited introduction of an ‘Australian Points Based System’

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has published its recommendations on the Governments’ promised ‘Australian-style Points-Based Immigration System’.

Migrants with a Job Offer

The MAC recommends that the current rules for those with a job offer in the UK should remain broadly the same as they are now. They suggest keeping the current ‘Tier 2’ route with some adjustments. This route requires the employer to ‘sponsor’ the worker to perform a specific job for a specific salary.

Some of the key recommendations are;

  • Employers will still have to sponsor migrant workers, taking responsibility for monitoring the
  • The range of jobs that could be sponsored would be increased to include medium as well as highly skilled post.
  • A reduction in the minimum salary from £30,000 to a level closer to £25,600. However, there would still be different salary requirements for different types of job, based on the ‘market rate’ for those professions.
  • Reviewing rules that prevent a Tier 2 worker owning significant equity in their employer. Changes to this rule may be welcome for those who may have previously applied for a Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa. This would go some way to mitigate the poor design of its replacement, the Innovator visa.

Migrants without a Job Offer

The closest thing to a points based system that is recommended is modification to the existing Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route.

The MAC suggests that;

  • Any migrant who wants to be considered can ‘express an interest’;
  • Applications would then be scored based on a variety of factors. The MAC suggests qualifications, age, sector of specialism and previous study in the UK as factors that could attract points;
  • Applications would be considered on a monthly basis with only the highest scoring getting through.

This would change the existing Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route almost beyond recognition. It may be easier to add or replace it, rather than try and change it to this extent.

Anyone with a longer memory than the Prime Minister will know that we have had something approaching an ‘Australian Style Points Based System’ before. The success of any new points based system will depend on careful design of the overall system. The devil will be in the detail.

It’s not clear what criteria applicants would have to meet in order to extend their leave, and then settle in the UK. This will be an important issue to address in the design of any new visa route of this type.

Conclusion

The report provides recommendations only. However, historically advice of the MAC has carried significant weight in decision making. It is therefore likely that the majority of their suggestions will be accepted.

Whilst the recommended changes would be an improvement on the current rules, they offer nothing close to the benefits of free movement. Employers will have a carry a much greater burden in monitoring the non-settled workforce.

Lydia Watkinson is an Associate Solicitor at Cartwright King. She specialises in Business Immigration.

Please call 0808 168 5550 for expert legal advice. 

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