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British Marine looks at the UK's new immigration proposals

Published on: 20 December 2018

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In its White Paper, Future skills-based immigration system (published on Wednesday 19 December), the Government has set out a range of proposals based on the recommendations made by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) earlier this year. The Government also announced impending publication of the Immigration and Social Security Coordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill which ends free movement (following the UK’s departure from the EU) and creates the legal framework for the future borders and immigration system.

The main aims of this new immigration system are to:

  • Remove the annual cap on the number of work visas issued
  • Widen the skills threshold to include people with qualifications equivalent of A levels
  • End the requirements for labour market tests by employers wanting to sponsor a worker

The full White Paper, including an overview of the proposals, are available to read and download on the GOV.UK website.

The move to a focus on skills requirements over where a skilled migrant comes from, and removing skills caps are welcome. Of most interest/importance to the UK marine industry are the following proposals:

Low skilled labour

  • There will be a new route for workers at any skill level for a temporary period, which will allow all businesses to access the staff they need. However, the Government is limiting this period to 12 months and will place more emphasis on businesses being incentivised to train young people in the future
  • Acknowledging that many businesses, especially small ones, have previously been able to hire migrant labour from the EU, without needing to engage with the existing sponsorship requirements, the Government aims to make the system as straightforward and light touch as possible, and low cost to employers
  • Immigrants entering on this 12-month visa will not have access to benefits or be able to bring family members with them and they won’t accrue rights to settle in the UK

The £30,000 threshold

  • The new skilled route will include workers with intermediate level skills, at RQF 3-5 level (A level or equivalent) as well as graduate and post-graduate
  • The MAC recommended retaining the minimum salary threshold at £30,000 and the Government is to consult with businesses and employers as to what salary threshold should be set
    o  British Marine will be seeking input from members on this, because the current threshold could prevent the marine industry from ensuring access to much needed skilled labour
  • The Government has already asked the MAC to review the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) and this will report in spring 2019
    o  British Marine urges its members to respond to the survey

The new immigration and borders system will be implemented in a phased approach from 2021 following a 12-month programme of engagement with businesses, stakeholders and the public by the Home Office. British Marine will ensure that the voice of UK marine businesses are heard during this process.

British Marine members can keep up-to-date with all its work on the skills agenda via British Marine’s Latest News. Members can also contact the Training Team with their questions at training@britishmarine.co.uk.