Migration Advisory Committee proposes changes to the Tier 1 (General) scheme

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has recently published a report concerning Tier 1 of the Points Based System and how well it is achieving its stated aims of bringing highly skilled individuals to the UK. After being asked by the UK Border Agency to consider a number of points, the MAC has proposed a number of significant changes to the Tier 1 (General) scheme. A summary of these proposed changes is as follows:

  • Uplift ratios, which allow the UK Border Agency to accurately and fairly compare salaries from economically diverse countries should be reviewed regularly;
  • Applicants with a bachelor’s degree but no master’s degree should be allowed to qualify under the Tier 1 (General) scheme if their previous earnings are high enough;
  • Certain professional qualifications (in law and accountancy, for example) should be considered equal to a master’s degree;
  • The previous earnings thresholds should be increased substantially, with no points awarded for previous annual earnings below £24,000 (currently £20,000);
  • Applicants with previous earnings of at least £150,000 per annum should be able to qualify for the scheme without gaining points from the qualifications or age sections;
  • Applicants should receive points for their age if they are 39 or under;
  • Successful applicants should initially be granted a two year visa, rather than a three year visa as at present, with a three-year extension later if the applicant is in highly skilled employment.

UK Work Permits would like to emphasise the fact that at the moment these changes have merely been proposed by a body entirely separate and distinct from the UK Border Agency. It is difficult to accurately judge the likelihood of these changes coming into affect, although in the past the UK Border Agency has accepted the majority of the MAC’s recommendations.

The UK Border Agency has stated that it will review these recommendations and publish its conclusion in early 2010. If introduced, it is likely that these changes would be made to the Tier 1 (General) scheme in the spring of 2010.

For further information on the viability of a Tier 1 (General) application under the rules as they currently stand, please contact us.