How Will The Tier 2 Visa Change As A Result Of Brexit?

29 Oct 2018, 30 mins ago

Much has been written about how the government will treat EU citizens already residing in the UK after Brexit. However, questions remain over what will happen to those who arrive after the transitional period.

The Migration Advisory Committee (“MAC”) published a report in September setting out their recommendations for EEA migrants moving to the UK after Brexit, several of which were endorsed by the Conservative party conference in late September and which one would expect to be taken on board.  

But what did the MAC report actually say? How will the immigration system evolve after Brexit?

The MAC report recommends that EEA nationals looking to relocate to the UK after Brexit (including the transitional period) should be required to apply under the current Points Based System. Workers will therefore be required to apply under the Tier 2 route (previously known as work permits). The MAC report has recommended the government should not open routes for lower skilled migrants – i.e. the Tier 3 route, but should instead consider extending the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme, if required. Although a pilot scheme was launched in August 2018 for temporary seasonal agriculture workers under Tier 5, the MAC report recommended that similar schemes should not be introduced for other low skilled jobs.  

How will the Tier 2 system cope with the sheer number of applications? The MAC has put forward a number of recommendations on how to adapt the Tier 2 system in order to make it fit for purpose, ready for the anticipated increase in Tier 2 migrants. Their recommendations include the following:

  1. Remove the Resident Labour Market Test:
    The Home Office currently requires employers to advertise for the post and test the resident labour market. Only if no suitable candidate from the resident labour market is identified can the employer look to hire a non-EEA national, unless certain exceptions apply. The purpose of the test is to protect the resident labour market. The MAC report recommends that either the Resident Labour Market Test should be removed completely or the number of people exempt from the Resident Labour Market Test should be increased.
  2. Remove the cap on the number of Restricted Certificates of Sponsorship:
    For certain Tier 2 migrants, companies are required to apply for a Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship (RCoS). RCoS’ are currently limited to only 20,700 per year. The requests are prioritised depending on the salary of the migrant. The MAC report recommends removing this cap altogether.
  3. Decrease the skills level required by the Tier 2 (General) visa to RQF level 3:
    This is a significant reduction in the skills level. Under the current Tier 2 (General) rules, a job vacancy must be at least at RQF level 6 (or level 4 under certain circumstances). The recommendation to reduce the skills level would mean that plumbers or butchers, for example, could apply under the Tier 2 (General) route. A skills level reduction would mean that the Tier 2 route would be extended from encompassing only highly skilled work to encompassing medium skilled work as well.

Whilst we do not know how much of the MAC report the government will actually incorporate into the immigration rules after the UK leaves the EU, the report’s recommendations could be a good indicator of the direction the new rules could take. Historically, the Home Office have usually incorporated many of the suggestions made by the MAC. However, with the constantly changing political landscape around Brexit, much still remains unclear and much will likely change in coming months.

Gherson has over 30 years of experience in assisting with various immigration matters and is monitoring the impact of Brexit on immigration closely.  We have a specialist corporate immigration team who service the immigration needs of a large number of companies, should you wish to speak to a member of our corporate immigration team, please do not hesitate to contact us.


The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.

©Gherson 2018