Migration Advisory Committee publishes initial results of Tier 2 review

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) yesterday released a comprehensive 182-page review of Tier 2 visa salary thresholds.

Tier 2 mainly consists of non-EU work migration.

The MAC was commissioned in June to carry out the review, and it will report in two stages – firstly, yesterday’s early advice on Tier 2 salary thresholds, and secondly, a wider review which will be delivered to government at the end of the year.

The MAC urged the government to be cautious over any early decision to raise the minimum salary requirements for skilled migrant workers, pending the completion of the wider review.

Yesterday’s review stated: “Our focus in this report is on analysis rather than recommendations. We examine the evidence concerning the possibility that migrants undercut British residents. We set out the impact on the number of migrants excluded as the pay thresholds are raised (assuming firms do not raise their pay offer). We urge caution over thresholds because such decisions interact with the second tranche of our work, particularly the skills levy. In any event a modest rise in the minimum thresholds would have minimal impact on Tier 2 (General) because currently the prioritisation system with the limit is yielding required pay above £30,000 (except for occupations within the shortage occupation list which are prioritised first). Further, the tight timetable means we have had insufficient time to fully consider the extensive evidence on this topic and, at this stage, cannot fully assess the impact of raising pay thresholds on particular companies and organisations.”

According to a MAC press release, the review found little evidence to suggest there is widespread undercutting of UK resident workers by Tier 2 migrants occurring under the current salary thresholds, though this finding is subject to further work being undertaken as part of the wider review.”

Chair of the MAC, Professor Sir David Metcalf CBE, said: “The MAC’s focus in this report is on analysis rather than recommendations. We have examined the evidence concerning the possibility that migrants undercut British residents and we set out the possible reduction in skilled migrant inflows if the pay thresholds were raised from current levels.”

“We urge the government to be cautious in making any significant changes to the salary thresholds at this stage because they should not be considered in isolation. Salary thresholds are closely linked with other issues the government has asked the MAC to consider in its wider review, including proposals for an immigration skills charge on migrant workers.”

“Our recommendations on the Tier 2 route will be published after we have examined in full the extensive evidence of the impact of raising pay thresholds on particular companies and organisations.”

According to BBC News, the MAC said raising Tier 2 salary thresholds could lead to “bottlenecks constraining the growth of individual firms,” and warned it could result in “serious problems in particular sectors, including the education and health sectors”.

BBC News said that the MAC review found this is “to some extent already the case”.

The review stated: “Overall, a number of firms said that increases in thresholds could lead to increases in the cost of their services, prevent expansion of business and thus possibly cause certain business areas to grow elsewhere in the world at the expense of the UK.”

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Germany suspends Dublin Regulation procedures for asylum seekers from Syria

The Asylum Information Database (AIDA) (a project of the European Council on Refugees and Exiles) reported yesterday that Germany has suspended deporting asylum seekers from Syria under the Dublin Regulation.

The EU’s Dublin Regulation (No 604/2013) determines which EU Member State is responsible for examining an asylum application and allows deportation if an asylum seeker tries to apply in another Member State.

According to AIDA, the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) issued internal instructions on 21 August 2015 suspending Dublin Regulation procedures in respect of Syrian nationals.

The Telegraph reported that an official German source confirmed the suspension.

AIDA says that Dublin procedures already initiated in relation to Syrians are to be cancelled, and newly applying Syrian asylum seekers will be channelled into the regular asylum procedure and will not be given the usual Dublin questionnaires.

According to the Telegraph, Germany has long complained that the Dublin system is failing and that the rules are abused by other Member States to avoid taking asylum seekers.

The Telegraph noted that German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande held emergency talks in Berlin yesterday on the refugee and migrant crisis facing Europe and called for an overhaul of the EU’s asylum system.

According to the Guardian, Germany and France are to draft common proposals on immigration and security to deal with the increasing numbers of refugees entering the EU, and Merkel said they could include building new registration centres in Greece and Italy to be run and staffed by the EU as a whole by the end of the year.

“Time is running out. EU member states must share costs relating to this action,” Merkel was quoted as saying.

Germany is said to be increasingly determined to push for a new system of mandatory quotas for refugees across the EU as it faces receiving a disproportionate 800,000 asylum seekers this year.

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Illegal working punishable by up to six months in prison and an unlimited fine under new Immigration Bill

Immigration Minister James Brokenshire said yesterday that the forthcoming Immigration Bill will introduce a new offence of illegal working punishable by up to six months in prison and an unlimited fine in England and Wales.

The Immigration Bill is set to be introduced this autumn.

Gov.uk news release reported that the Bill will also make it easier to prosecute employers who know, or reasonably suspect, that persons they employ do no have legal permission to work in the UK.

Businesses such as pubs, off-licences or takeaways who evade sanctions or offend repeatedly face losing their licence to operate.

Brokenshire was quoted as saying: “Anyone who thinks the UK is a soft touch should be in no doubt — if you are here illegally, we will take action to stop you from working, renting a flat, opening a bank account or driving a car.”

“As a one nation government we will continue to crack down on abuse and build an immigration system that works in the best interests of the British people and those who play by the rules.”

“Through our new Immigration Bill, illegal workers will face the prospect of a prison term and rogue employers could have their businesses closed, have their licences removed, or face prosecution if they continue to flout the law.”

Labour’s shadow immigration minister David Hanson was quoted by The Herald as saying: “This is the third time the Government have announced forms of these plans which have yet to be scrutinised by parliament in the as yet unpublished Immigration Bill. They are simply trying to look tough before Thursday’s migration figures and in the wake of failures at Calais.”

Migrants’ Rights Network (MRN) warned that the plans to ramp up enforcement action in migrant communities across the country is likely to prove divisive and increase the sense of fundamental injustice in the UK immigration control system.

MRN director Don Flynn said: “The proposal to create a criminal offence which could lead to a six month prison sentence with an unlimited fine for anyone found working without the right papers is also grossly disproportionate to any harm which migrants in a vulnerable position may be considered to have done.”

Flynn was also concerned that the government appeared to have singled out pubs, takeaways and off licenses: “business sectors where people of migrant backgrounds have established themselves on high streets across the country.”

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Net migration to the UK reaches record high

The latest statistics from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that net migration to the UK for the year ending March 2015 reached an all-time record high of 330,000, beating the previous record of 320,000 in the year ending June 2005.

The ONS Migration Statistics Quarterly Report, August 2015 is available here.

The key points of the report are:

• Net long-term international migration = +330,000 (up 94,000 from YE March 2014), in the year ending (YE) March 2015.

• Immigration = 636,000 (up 84,000), in the year ending (YE) March 2015.

• Emigration = 307,000 (down 9,000), in the year ending (YE) March 2015.

• The net migration figure was a statistically significant increase from 236,000 in YE March 2014 and is the highest net migration on record.

• Net migration of EU citizens showed a statistically significant increase to 183,000 (up 53,000 from YE March 2014). The increase in non-EU net migration to 196,000 (up 39,000) was also statistically significant and is a result of an increase in immigration (not statistically significant) and a decrease in emigration (statistically significant).

• The increase in long-term international immigration included a statistically significant increase for EU citizens to 269,000 (up 56,000), the highest recorded level for this group; and an increase for non-EU nationals to 284,000 (up 23,000) (not statistically significant).

• 53,000 Romanian and Bulgarian (EU2) citizens immigrated to the UK in YE March 2015, a statistically significant increase and almost double the 28,000 in the previous 12 months.

• 290,000 people immigrated for work in YE March 2015, a statistically significant increase of 65,000 from 225,000 in YE March 2014 continuing the upward trend.

• There were statistically significant increases of immigration for work for both EU citizens (from 134,000 to 162,000 in YE March 2015) and non-EU citizens (from 48,000 to 64,000). The increase for British citizens was not statistically significant. Of the 53,000 EU2 citizens immigrating to the UK, 42,000 were coming for work, a statistically significant increase of 20,000.

• 61% of EU citizens immigrating for work had a definite job to go to, whereas 39% were intending to look for a job rather than taking up an offer of employment.

• Latest employment statistics show estimated employment of EU nationals (excluding British) living in the UK was 250,000 higher in April to June 2015 compared with the same quarter last year and non-EU nationals in employment increased by 7,000. Over the same period, British nationals in employment also increased (by 84,000), therefore three-quarters of the growth in employment over the last year was accounted for by foreign nationals. (These growth figures represent the net change in the number of people in employment, not the proportion of new jobs that have been filled by non-UK workers.)

• In YE June 2015, work-related visas granted (main applicants) rose by 8,862 (or 8%) to 121,964, including a 5,177 (11%) increase for skilled work (Tier 2) visas.

• Long-term immigration for study increased from 176,000 to 188,000 in YE March 2015 (not statistically significant). Over the same period, visa applications to study at a UK university (main applicants) rose to 166,481.

• There were 25,771 asylum applications (main applicants) in YE June 2015, an increase of 10% compared with the previous 12 months (23,515). The number of applications remains low relative to the peak number of applications in 2002 (84,132).

• The largest number of applications for asylum came from nationals of Eritrea (3,568), followed by Pakistan (2,302) and Syria (2,204). A total of 11,600 people were granted asylum or an alternative form of protection.

Immigration Minister James Brokenshire said the net migration figures were “deeply disappointing.”

BBC News quoted him as saying: “While these figures underline the challenges we need to meet to reduce net migration, they should also act as a further wake-up call for the EU. Current flows of people across Europe are on a scale we haven’t seen since the end of World War Two. This is not sustainable and risks the future economic development of other EU member states.”

BBC News also reported today that the Institute of Directors warned jointly with the think tank British Future that radical policies to prevent migrants coming to the UK will damage the economy.

Simon Walker, director general of the Institute of Directors, was quoted by BBC News as saying: “Scrabbling around to find measures to hit a bizarre and unachievable migration target is no way to give British businesses the stable environment they need. Combined with ministers’ increasingly strong rhetoric on immigration, the UK’s reputation as an open, competitive economy is under threat.”

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Confusion between immigration appeal and judicial review

Client’s who consult us find it difficult to work out the difference between an immigration appeal, administrative review and a judicial review. An immigration appeal or administrative review provides you with an immigration decision whereas the judicial review does not.

Judicial review is a type of court proceeding in which a judge reviews the lawfulness of a decision or action made by a public body. In other words, judicial reviews are a challenge to the way in which a decision has been made, rather than the rights and wrongs of the conclusion reached. It is not really concerned with the conclusions of that process and whether those were ‘right’, as long as the right procedures have been followed. The court will not substitute what it thinks is the ‘correct’ decision.

This may mean that the public body will be able to make the same decision again, so long as it does so in a lawful way. If you want to argue that a decision was incorrect, judicial review may not be best for you. There are alternative remedies, such as appealing against the decision to a higher court.

Examples of the types of decision which may fall within the range of judicial review include:

  • Decisions of local authorities in the exercise of their duties to provide various welfare benefits and special education for children in need of such education;
  • Certain decisions of the immigration authorities and Immigration Appellate Authority;
  • Decisions of regulatory bodies;
  • Decisions relating to prisoner’s rights.

If you require advice or are unsure of the advice provided to you by someone else, speak to us today on 0207 237 3388 or e-mail us on info@icslegal.com. 

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