Recommendations for future EEA migration post-Brexit

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The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has published its recommendations for a future migration system post-Brexit.

The report follows a request from the Home Secretary in July 2017 to assess current patterns of European Economic Area (EEA) migration, what likely future patterns may arise, and the impact this will have on the UK.

The MAC has had extensive engagement with different sectors receiving a total of 417 responses to its call to evidence, followed by numerous discussions with sector experts throughout writing its report.

Key recommendations that could impact the NHS include:

  • Any migration policy changes should make it easier for higher-skilled workers to migrate to the UK than lower-skilled workers.
  • A non-preferential system for EU citizens.
  • Removal of the cap on the number of migrants under Tier 2 (general) visa.
  • Widen the range of roles permitted on the Tier 2 (general) visas to be open to all jobs at RQF3 and above, plus a review of the shortage occupation list.
  • Maintain the existing salary thresholds for all migrants under Tier 2, currently set at £30,000.
  • Retain but review the immigration skills charge.
  • Consider the removal of the resident labour market test. If not, extend the number of migrants who are exempt through lowering the salary required for exemption. 
  • Review the current sponsorship licence system and how it works for small/medium businesses.
  • Consult more systematically with users of the visa system to ensure that it works well and is fit for purpose.
  • Extend the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme to fill low-skilled roles.

These recommendations will help form the proposals set out in the government's immigration white paper due in the near future.

Responding to the MAC's report, Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said: “We strongly support many of the policy recommendations made by this timely report and are pleased the MAC has highlighted the social care funding crisis.

“The number one priority should be options for social care employers to hire social care workers. It would be completely unacceptable to allow vital services to close under the strain of not having the people required to provide good care, and so we welcome the recognition that sustainable funding would drive improved pay and conditions – and make this sector a much more attractive place to work.

“A youth mobility scheme will simply not be sufficient for a sector employing over 1.5 million people in England, of which 175,000 care workers are from abroad.

“We have consistently flagged concerns about extending the Tier 2 system to EEA nationals, so while we welcome the MAC’s recommendation the Tier 2 cap be abolished, without reforming the system beyond this, the NHS and social care will struggle to recruit the staff they need.”

To find out more visit our international recruitment web pages. To follow future updates on Brexit affecting the NHS workforce sign up to our Brexit bulletin.

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