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Migration Advisory Committee endorses immigration routes for highly skilled migrants

The independent Migration Advisory Committee has completed its review of Tier 1 of the government’s points-based system.

Earlier this year, the government asked the MAC to consider whether the criteria for Tier 1 should be changed in 2010/11 to reflect changing economic circumstances. The MAC’s report, published today, says that Tier 1 is generally operating well, but also recommends some changes.

Regarding the Tier 1 (General) route for highly skilled workers, the MAC’s recommendations include:

  • the salary multipliers, which are used to convert previous earnings outside the UK into a UK equivalent, should be rapidly and thoroughly reviewed;
  • migrants with a bachelor’s degree but no master’s degree should be allowed to come to the UK under Tier 1 (General), if their previous earnings are high enough;
  • professional qualifications (in law and accountancy, for example) should be considered as equal to a master’s degree;
  • the pay thresholds should be substantially increased, with no points for previous annual earnings below £24,000;
  • migrants with previous annual earnings of at least £150,000 should not need to meet the educational qualification requirements;
  • applicants should receive points for their age if they are 39 or under; and
  • successful applicants should initially be allowed to come to the UK for two years, rather than three as at present, with a three-year extension later if they are in highly skilled employment.

The MAC says the Tier 1 (Post-study work) route – for migrants who want to work in the UK after completing a course of study here – should continue, as it brings economic benefits to the UK. But it recommends that the government should consider whether all courses and all institutions should continue to be treated the same.

The government will announce whether it accepts the recommendations in early 2010.