The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has recommended minimum annual pay is the best way to select which highly skilled migrant workers should be eligible for settlement.
The MAC has recommended:
A simple pay threshold be used to decide eligibility for automatic settlement among Tier 2 (general) migrants; migrants entering through the Tier 1 (exceptional talent) route to proceed to settlement after five years subject to continuing to meet the criteria for that route; a pay threshold between £31,000 and £49,000 for Tier 2 (general), set at the time of entry and adjusted for inflation or changes to average pay, would be economically defensible.
The other recommendations are: Sportspeople should also be subject to the same pay criteria as other migrants under Tier 2 (general); and government and businesses should work together to up-skill the UK labour market to mitigate the impact of restricting settlement rights.
Professor David Metcalf CBE, Chairman of the MAC, said: 'After extensive consultation the MAC has recommended a pay threshold as the best way to decide if a worker can stay in the UK. This is based on sound economic theory.
'Imposing greater controls on settlement may mean that the annual limit on entry into Tier 1 and Tier 2 would not need to be reduced as much as it would otherwise to meet the government's objective of reduced net migration.'
The UK Border Agency added: `A number of changes have already been made to the Tier 2 migrant workers route by the government which are likely to see the number of settlement applications fall. Therefore, a 'do nothing' option is defensible but, equally, the MAC believes the government's intention to control settlement numbers is legitimate.
`The effects of any change will not be fully felt until 2016. This will allow time for employers and government to work together to up-skill the UK workforce in those occupations most affected’.