Migration Advisory Committee publishes recommendations relating to sponsored workers, providing further insight into the future of the UK’s immigration system


The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) is an independent public body that advises the government on migration issues. On the 28 January 2020, they published a long awaited report on a points-based visa route and the use, and level, of salary thresholds for sponsored workers, in response to commissions from the Government.

We have outlined below the main recommendations made in relation to skilled workers with a job offer, in other words individuals being sponsored to work in the UK by their employer. The full report can be found here.

Key Recommendations in relation to sponsored workers

Sponsored workers coming to the UK from outside of the UK to work permanently for their employer, currently need to apply for a Tier 2 (General) visa to do so. Importantly, The MAC has recommended retaining the existing framework for Tier 2 as this seems to work well.

In relation to salary thresholds, which govern the minimum salary level for the role that the sponsored worker is coming to do, the MAC made the following recommendations.

  • The minimum salary thresholds for jobs to qualify for sponsorship under Tier 2 should be reduced from £30,000 to around £25,600 with allowances, equity and employer pension contributions not included. This reflects the MAC’s recommendation that medium-skilled roles should be included in the new system.
  • The current requirement to meet the higher of the general salary threshold and the occupation-specific salary threshold should be maintained.
  • The minimum salary thresholds should apply universally across the UK, though lower salary thresholds for applicants willing to live in remote areas should be piloted.
  • National pay scales, rather than the general or occupation-specific thresholds, should be used for 24 public sector roles, including teaching and healthcare.
  • Salary thresholds should not be pro-rated for part-time work, though the government should consider whether pro-rating should be allowed for visa-holders switching to part-time work after becoming a parent.
  • The definition of new entrants should be winded and they should be subjected to a lower salary threshold. This rate should further apply for five rather than three years. 
  • The increase to the minimum salary threshold for settlement should be paused.

It was further recommended that if the government would like to implement a genuine points-based visa route, the existing Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route which does not require a job offer, should be modified rather than the existing Tier 2 system.

Next Steps

Although the role of the MAC is only advisory, the Government frequently adopts its recommendations in its immigration policy. The Government is set to reply to the recommendations contained in the report in March, when it’s White Paper of the UK’s future immigration system is due to be published. Following this, we will hopefully have a clearer picture of the UK’s future immigration system which is expected to come into force on 1 January 2021.

Employers should be reviewing their recruitment practices in readiness for date, especially those dependent on European workers.


The law and practice referred to in this article or webinar has been paraphrased or summarised. It might not be up-to-date with changes in the law and we do not guarantee the accuracy of any information provided at the time of reading. It should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice in relation to a specific set of circumstances.

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