BEERG: Will the UK Open Its Borders to High-Skilled Workers Following Brexit?

January 31, 2020

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced plans to create a new visa for high-skilled workers in a bid to “send a message that the UK is open to the most talented minds in the world” post-Brexit.

The new scheme replaces the Tier 1 ‘exceptional talent’ visa, and removes the 2,000 people annual cap, which has not been reached since the policy was introduced.  Priti Patel, the home secretary, said the new scheme would be accompanied by a £300M fund to promote “experimental and imaginative mathematical sciences research” over the next five years.  She also stressed that UK businesses should invest in local talent rather than relying on cheap low-skilled labor from the EU.

Meanwhile, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has advised that the salary threshold for skilled migrant workers entering the UK should be lowered to £25,600 to make it more affordable for employers to sponsor skilled workers from abroad after Brexit.  MAC said reducing the salary threshold under the Tier 2 (General) visa scheme from £30,000 would mean that “most employers” could hire migrants “at wages which many existing workers in those occupations are currently being paid.”

In addition to meeting the thresholds, employers offering jobs to workers from overseas would also need to pay an occupation-specific rate, the MAC recommends in its latest report.  Last week, industry groups, including the CBI, British Chambers of Commerce, and Make UK, urged home secretary Priti Patel to cut the threshold to £20,100.

EU member states are likely to impose similar restrictions on UK citizens who want to live and work in Europe.

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