November 18, 2010

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), the independent advisory body on migration to the UK government, has published its report on proposed limits to Tiers 1 and 2 of the Points Based System.  The UK Border Agency has indicated that it has reviewed the report in detail and will be announcing the details of the revised policy shortly.

Interim Cap 

The interim cap currently in place for Tiers 1 and 2 will remain in place until the end of March.  More details of the interim cap can be found in Pro-Link GLOBAL’s Global Briefhere. The new policy will be implemented to be effective from 1 April 2011. Pro-Link GLOBAL anticipates that the details of the new policy will be announced in December.  The MAC recommendations published today do not constitute the new policy – these are simply recommendations to the UK Border Agency.

What Did the MAC Recommend?

In a 334 page report, the MAC has recommended the following:

Tier 1 MAC Recommendations 

  1. Reduce the number of Tier 1 entry clearance visa approvals by 3150-6000 per year (compared to 2009, in which year 14,200 Tier 1 General approvals were given)
  2. Limit Tier 1 entry clearance visa approvals to 8000-11,100 for 2011/2012
  3. Periodically recalibrate the points table for Tier 1 General in order to select the most skilled migrants
  4. Introduce the requirement of being employed in skilled graduate-level occupations atthe extension stage
  5. Revise the methodology for updating salary multipliers (used when calculating previous earnings, to take into account varying salary ranges and costs of living in different countries) and putting in place new salary multipliers as quickly as possible.

Tier 2 MAC Recommendations 

  1. Reduce the number of Tier 2 entry clearance visa approvals by 3150-6300 per year (compared to 2009, in which year 35,800 Tier 2 approvals were given)
  2. Limit Tier 2 entry clearance visa approvals to 29,400 to 32,600 in 2011/12. This limit would include intra company transfers but exclude extensions, switchers and dependants.
  3. Consider excluding Tier 2 visas issued for less than 12 months duration from the limits on the assumption that:
    • such short-term migrants will not be permitted to switch in-country to other work-related routes; or
    • if Tier 2 migrants are permitted to switch in-country to other routes, the in-country visas issued in these cases count towards the (otherwise out-of country) limits on Tiers 1 and 2
  4. Amend the points calibration for Tier 2
  5. Scale down the allowances used for points purposes in relation to the required points for earnings for intra-company transfers
  6. Apply criteria at the extension stage for intra-company transfers that are more stringent than those applied at the point of initial entry

Tier 2 Intra Company Transfers  

It is particularly interesting to note that the MAC report specifically states that intra company transfers under Tier 2 of the Points Based System should be included in the limits.

However, senior government figures, including David Cameron (the Prime Minister) and Damian Green (the Immigration Minister) have already indicated, in comments to the press, that Tier 2 intra company transfers will be excluded in the limits.  Damian Green stated today:

“We can reduce net migration without damaging our economy. Britain will remain open for business, and we have already announced that managers and specialists will continue to be able to come to the UK through an exempted intra-company transfer route.” 

What Happens Next? 

The UK Border Agency launched its own consultation into the limits on Tiers 1 and 2, which ran alongside the MAC consultation. The results of that will be reviewed alongside the MAC report.  Pro-Link GLOBAL anticipates that the details of the revised policy will be made available in December.

Historically, the UK government has implemented MAC recommendations, although not all of them.  It is likely that many of the recommendations described above will be implemented.  Pro-Link GLOBAL will, of course, be watching closely and will keep you informed.


The MAC recommendations are recommendations only – at this stage, nothing has changed. Watch this space – Pro-Link GLOBAL will keep you informed!

Caveat Lector | Warning to Reader 

This is provided as informational only and does not substitute for actual legal advice based on the specific circumstances of a matter. Readers are reminded that Immigration laws are fluid and can change a moment’s notice without any warning. Please reach out to your local Pro-Link GLOBAL specialist should you require any additional clarification.