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UNITED KINGDOM: Migration Advisory Committee Publishes Recommendations on the Revised Tier 2 Codes of Practice

On October 17, 2012, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) published recommendations in relation to the revised Tier 2 Codes of Practice, appropriate salary levels, and advertising requirements.

To sponsor a migrant under Tier 2 of the Points-Based System, employers must map their migrant roles to job titles listed in the codes of practice. The current codes were updated in June of this year and a link to these can be found on the UK Border Agency website. The relevant codes for Tier 2 are those that are classified as graduate-level roles (NQF 6+). The MAC has reviewed these codes, along with the commensurate salary levels and advertising requirements.

The MAC has produced a revised list of 97 occupations skilled to NQF 6+ and has published this new list in its latest report at Table 8.1 on pages 126-134. Some job titles have changed and some new occupations have been added. Furthermore, it has recommended a two-tier salary banding for each job code, either New Entrant or Experienced Worker. The MAC is proposing that the New Entrant salaries stipulated are appropriate for those migrants who left full-time education less than 3 years ago and for any migrant undertaking a graduate training program. If the government accepts this recommendation, this will significantly assist many employers who have thus far struggled to meet the high salary levels stipulated in the current codes for some of their graduate migrants and those undertaking training programs.

One potential issue is that when the time comes to extend the visa, employers may need to meet the experienced worker salary level, which could require a significant pay increase.

With regard to advertising, the MAC has made some pragmatic recommendations by stating that the advertising codes of practice should not be unduly prescriptive in terms of where the employer should advertise the role, and is recommending that employers be permitted to insert "competitive salary" in their advertisements where it is normal practice within a given sector. This would leave the decision on where to advertise to employers, subject to retaining the current stipulations, which include ensuring that the advertisement reaches a nationwide audience and is placed for 28 days. The MAC also recommends that the government review the current requirement for employers to advertise on Job Centre Plus, based on feedback received from employers that it is not much used for matching skilled workers with graduate vacancies.

A modernization of the codes of practice was long overdue. It is hoped that the government will follow these recommendations.

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