The Points Based System (PBS) is a flexible tool for controlling migration to the UK. It allows changes to be made based upon the circumstances of the day e.g. changing economic circumstances. The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) recently completed its review of Tier 1 and recommended the following changes to the UK Border Agency for the year 2010 / 2011:
Recommendations for Tier 1 General (formerly the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme):
- A minimum Bachelors Degree qualification should be reintroduced to Tier 1 General, at present applicants require at least a Masters Degree of better: In April 2009 following challenging economic conditions the UK Border Agency increased the minimum requirements for Tier 1 General from a Bachelors Degree to a Masters Degree. This change not only reduced applications from those looking to come to the UK for the first time but also the retention of existing visa holders (such as those already in the UK on a Working Holiday Visa (now Tier 5) or Tier 1 Post Study Work Visa). By reducing the minimum education requirement the UKBA will:
- encourage more fresh Tier 1 visa applications
- improve the retention of those on Working Holiday Visas & Tier 1 Post Study Work Visas
- reduce the number of applications currently made under Tier 2 General (formerly UK Work Permit)
- Successful applicants should receive an initial two year stay rather than the current three years. If they are in highly skilled employment they should be able to apply for a three year extension at the end of two years.
- Professional qualifications should be considered equivalent to a Masters Degree. Qualifications include those in Accountancy, Healthcare, Finance etc
- The ‘Salary Multipliers’ should be reviewed: Salary Multipliers are used where an individual has income from a foreign country. The multiplier takes into affect the regional differences in income
- Significant increases should be made to the thresholds under which applicants claim points for previous earnings. Anyone with income below £24,000 should not receive any points: At present those with income between £20,000 & £22,999 receive 15 points and those with income between £23,000 and £25,999 receive 20 points. Those that wish to claim maximum points for previous earnings in the future may also require greater income (at present 45 points are awarded for £40,000+)
- High earners with income of at least £150,000 should not need to satisfy the educational requirement
- Applicants under the age of 39 should receive points: At present anyone aged 31 or below scores points under Tier 1. The age category is likely to be raised due to the fact that the Previous Earnings requirement will be increased and the Salary Multipliers will be made more difficult. Younger applicants are less likely to earn as much as older applicants.
Recommendations for Tier 1 Post Study Workers:
- The Post Study Work sub category of Tier 1 should continue, however the MAC suggests that the Government should access whether all courses and colleges should be treated in the same way.
The Government is expected to make an announcement on changes to Tier 1 in early 2010. Normally the MAC’s recommendations are fully implemented.
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