Today the Government has announced new provisions around settlement, making it harder for immigrants to stay in the country after having been here for five years. Immigrants now have to meet a salary threshold, or be forced to leave the country. When this was first suggested CaSE raised concerns with the Home Office, including via a well-publicised letter to The Times, that this would deter some of the world’s brightest talent from considering the UK as a destination.
We’re pleased that, under the new rules, people in jobs that require a PhD (or equivalent) as well as anyone on the Shortage Occupation List – which together include many science and engineering professions - will be exempt from this salary restriction. We hope that as well as having these regulations, the Home Office will also make it clear that scientists and engineers are very much welcome in the UK.
Resident Labour Market Tests
The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC’s), the Government independent immigration policy advisers, yesterday released their latest recommendations on ‘Tier 2′ immigration limits. Tier 2 covers the vast majority of non-EU, non-student immigration into the UK.
As well as recommending that the current limit of 20,700 visas a year shouldn’t be lowered, the MAC also recommended exempting PhD-level occupations from some aspects of the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT). Under the RLMT, organisations can only hire from outside the EU after they’ve demonstrated that the resident labour market can’t supply the necessary talent. This is done by advertising the position, including in the local Job Centre Plus, and showing that nobody suitable applies.
For many scientific and engineering positions this is clearly unworkable, and leaves institutions wasting valuable time and effort before being able to recruit the talented individuals they need. We’re pleased that the MAC agrees with us that the Job Centre Plus requirement should be dropped, as well as the suggestion that the RLMT should be valid for 12 months at a time rather than 6.
CaSE has consistently argued that the RLMT red tape has been holding back some of the UK’s leading science and engineering institutions, and we’ve recently corresponded directly with Government over this issue. We hope the MAC’s recommendations on RLMT will be implemented in the coming months.
Although a number of barriers remain – notably with student immigration, and the new exceptional talent route – we’re pleased that aspects of immigration policy are moving in the right direction.