Priti Patel and Boris Johnson are likely to set out their immigration plans this Friday. This comes at a time when businesses and industry leaders across the UK are collectively calling for reform which compensates for the ending of free movement laws initiated by Brexit. Amongst their demands, was the lowering of the minimum salary threshold which is currently in place for most permanent Work Visas.
At present, skilled migrants who are subject to immigration controls (anyone from outside the EEA) must meet several requirements to work in the UK. In the case of the Tier 2 Visa – the most commonly accessed UK Work Visa – they must have an official job offer from a registered UK employer, and this job must have a minimum salary of £30,000. The exception to this rule applies when the prospective role is in a national skills shortage and has been listed on the Government resource, the Shortage Occupation List (SOL).
According to preliminary talks, and the recommendations of the Migration Observatory Committee (MAC) the threshold is set to be lowered to £25,600 after Brexit’s implementation period. This is to compensate for the loss of EU talent in various industries that need to fill labour shortages for less well-paid roles.
Now that Brexit has been triggered, the implementation period has officially begun. During this period, which ends on December 31st 2021, those entering from the EU will continue to exercise free movement laws. This means they can enter the UK, take on work or switch jobs without being subject to visa laws. After this period ends, all EEA nationals will need to meet the same visa requirements as non-EEA nationals.
Many industries, including Hospitality, Construction, and Healthcare, are concerned about how these changes will affect them. This is because they all rely on so-called ‘lower-skilled’ workers who typically earn less than the current minimum salary requirement.
If Johnson’s announcement follows the MAC’s recommendations, this may help to quell some of these fears.