MAC’s Rapid Review of Immigration Salary List | 23rd February 2024

Yogita Sharma
01/03/2024

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On December 4, 2023, several changes were announced in the immigration system by the Home Secretary, which were notably connected to the Skilled Worker (SW) route. Following this, on January 17, 2024, in a significant move, the government assigned the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) the task of rapidly reviewing the newly introduced Immigration Salary List (ISL). This review process was stipulated to be completed by February 23, 2024.

The MAC review appeals to a comprehensive evaluation of the ISL. It requests the government to take into account the insights and suggestions highlighted in this report before defining the scope of the impending full review.

Important points from this blog:

  • This blog post includes the key recommendations from the MAC’s rapid review.
  • From this review, MAC has suggested that 21 occupations be included in the ISL.
  • As per the review, the term ‘occupation-specific threshold’ should be used instead of ‘going rate’.

Government Announcement: A Synopsis

The government made a significant announcement on December 4, 2023, with these changes said to take effect from 4th April 2024. The key changes include:

  1. Replacement of the Shortage Occupation List (SOL): The SOL should be replaced with the Immigration Salary List (ISL).
  2. End of the 20% ‘going rate’ discount: The privilege associated with placing an occupation on the SOL, which offered a 20% ‘going rate’ discount, to be abolished.
  3. Changes for the Skilled Worker (SW) route (excluding Health & Care Worker (H&CW) visas):
    • The general threshold to be increased from £26,200 to £38,700.
    • Occupation-specific thresholds to be raised from the 25th percentile to the 50th percentile (median) of the full-time salary for the occupation for non-Health &Care Workers occupations, or the national pay scale where applicable.
    • For ISL-listed occupations, a threshold of either £30,960 or their occupation-specific threshold is to be set, with the higher value taking precedence.
  4. Changes specific to the Health & Care Worker (H&CW) Visa:
    • Instead of £38,700, the general threshold has been kept at £29,000, which represents the 25th percentile of salaries, updated to the latest data.
    • Occupation-specific thresholds are set at the 25th percentile or the national pay scale where applicable.
    • For ISL-listed occupations, a threshold of either £23,200 or their occupation-specific threshold has been established, whichever is higher.

Rapid Review of Immigration Salary List by MAC

In keeping with the Home Secretary’s directions as per the commissioning letter, MAC’s examination has been limited to occupations currently listed on the SOL and those recommended for addition in the 2023 SOL review. This approach is intended as a temporary measure for the implementation of the new immigration rules announced on December 4, 2023, in anticipation of a more comprehensive review of the ISL, which will take place later this year.

From this review, MAC has suggested that 21 occupations be included in the ISL. This inclusion represents 8% of job roles eligible for the SW route by employment – a decrease from the previous statistic, where nearly 30% of job roles eligible for the SW route were on the SOL.

Changes to Occupation-specific Thresholds

Following the shift in occupation-specific thresholds (formerly known as ‘going rates’) from the 25th percentile to the median full-time salary for Non-Health and Care Worker occupations, MAC has decided to explicitly mention the percentile measure (either 25th or 50th) in the discussion.

As per MACs rapid review, the term ‘occupation-specific threshold’ should be used to refer to the 25th percentile for H&CW occupations and the 50th percentile for non-H&CW occupations. Additionally, the use of the term ‘going rate’ should be discontinued.

A summary of MAC’s latest salary recommendations and the changes to implement from 4th April 2024 can be found below:

Non HCW occupations 1
MAC’s Rapid Review of Immigration Salary List as on 23rd February 2024

New Entrant Threshold

The new entrant discount for individuals aged 26 and below, shall still continue as per MAC’s rapid review, at least for the time being. This discount currently offers a 30% reduction on the occupation-specific threshold and a 20% reduction on the general salary threshold (bringing it to £30,960 after the 20% discount), of which the higher must be paid. Given the rise in salary thresholds, employers can leverage the new entrant discount, more so than they have in the past. This discount could become appealing and, for certain occupations, might be the only viable option to hire migrant workers via the Skilled Worker route.

The MAC report lays out several considerations for the government until the new salary threshold is put into action. It will be intriguing to see how the government addresses the various points outlined in the report within a limited timeframe. Read more about the rapid review here.

How can City Legal assist you?

We are anticipating more announcements to be made in March 2024. If we are working on a case with you and you have questions about how these changes may impact your visa application then contact you caseworker for clarification.

You can make general enquiries at enquiries@citylegalsolicitors.co.uk or call us on 020 8175 4000.

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