March 29, 2016
Business Insider reported on the immigration reforms, announcd by Home Secretary Theresa May, which will “make it harder for UK tech companies to hire overseas talent”, as well as more expensive. The independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) was tasked last year by May with “investigating how the UK government could reduce the number of skilled migrant workers entering the UK on the Tier 2 visa”, the main route for non-EEA (European Economic Area) nationals to “apply to work in the UK”.
Last week, the MAC’s findings were published by the Home Office, with one policy change likely to affect technology companies “the increase to minimum salary thresholds”, as previously UK tech companies could hire Tier 2 visa non-EEA workers if they paid them over £20,800 ($29,696/€26,509), but this is set to rise to £25,000 ($35,693/€31,861) in autumn and £30,000 ($42,832/€38,234) in April 2017. An Immigrations Skills Charge will also be imposed on businesses hiring Tier 2 visa workers of £1,000 ($1,427/€1,274) per worker.
The MAC was said to hav been asked to look at “restricting skilled work visas to genuine skills shortages and highly specialist experts”, raising the salary thresholds “to stop businesses using foreign workers to undercut wages”, and imposing the skills charge “to invest in funding for training resident workers”. Some health and education workers will be exempt from the highest salary thresholds until July 2019, but no other professions will be.
James Brokenshire MP, responding to the report, commented that “for too long we have had a shortage of workers in certain roles, and in the past, it has been too easy for employers to recruit overseas”, while Charlotte Holloway, head of policy at industry body techUK, contended that “today’s statement from the immigration minister will be disappointing to tech companies, including growing UK SMEs through to international companies investing in the UK.
“Whilst there is widespread acknowledgement that the technology industry faces some of the most significant skills shortages in the economy – extra restrictions such as the new skills charge, increased salary thresholds and limitations on intra-company transfers will not make it easier for companies to access the talent they need to grow”.
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