UK visa advisor MAC calls for evidence on skills shortages


Boris Johnson Coronavirus Covid-19 Presser 3 June 2020

Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street

Comments by Sanwar Ali:

If the MAC (Migration Advisory Committee) review leads to a new system that is more likely to be able to deal with skills shortages after free movement ends then this will be most welcome to businesses, the NHS and others.  A system too similar to the current Tier 2 Sponsor Licence and Tier 2 visa system will not work.  The Prime Minister Boris Johnson insists that the Brexit transitional period will continue only until the end of 2020.  However, the Government has made so many u-turns recently can we believe this? 

Even without the coronavirus COVID-19 situation, reaching a trade deal with the EU by the end of the year seemed unlikely.  It remains the case that there may be a no-deal Brexit after the end of this year.  People in the UK may next year have to deal with the problems of not having a trade deal and skills shortages because newly arriving EU workers will no longer be able to work freely in the UK. 

We would like to put together a submission to MAC taking into account the views of our readers and subscribers about the UK visa system and skills shortages.  Please email if you have any comments.


The so-called, independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) recently launched a six-week call for evidence, seeking input from UK businesses and employers on the state of the country’s recruitment market. The call for evidence comes amid the MAC’s latest review of the UK’s shortage occupation list (SOL), which will form part of the new immigration bill.

The SOL was last updated on 6 October 2019 and represents the government’s official record of job roles where evidence indicates that there are not enough workers to fill vacancies.

Professor Brian Bell, the MAC’s interim chair, said: “We recognise that the coronavirus outbreak has placed an enormous strain on businesses, but their input is vital. Any time they can give, or information they can provide, will be greatly valued and aid us in providing the government with robust recommendations.”

According to Professor Bell, the call for evidence has been made now in order to deliver the MAC’s report by September 2020, at the request of the government.

Current migration issues 

Responses given by UK businesses and employers will help the MAC to get a clear picture of current UK migration issues, which will support recommendations made by the independent body to Home Secretary, Priti Patel, in September.

In accordance with the government’s proposed, new points-based immigration system, set to come into force on 1 January 2021, ministers have said that evidence of occupational skills shortages will be one of the key factors by which a UK Tier 2 visa applicant will be able to accumulate the necessary points to qualify for UK entry.

Medium-skilled roles need to be included in UK visa system

It’s understood that the Home Secretary has commissioned the MAC to identify any medium-skilled occupations that require ‘A’-Levels or equivalent that could be added to the UK SOL.

The MAC has stated that it is not seeking evidence for roles currently featured on the existing list, which typically require a university degree, because the plan is to keep those occupations on the list as part of its latest review.

The so-called, independent body has said that it recognises the effect of the coronavirus on the ability of employers to respond to its request for evidence and indicated that this would be reflected in its final report in September.

The consultation will close on 24 June 2020.

Post-Brexit immigration bill criticised

The government’s proposed, post-Brexit immigration bill has faced heavy criticism amid the coronavirus, with many of its policies branded hypocritical and prejudiced towards so-called low-skilled migrants, many of whom have served on the frontline during the pandemic.

A recent second reading of the bill, in the midst of a national public health crisis, was slammed for its timing and described as a ‘slap in the face’ for migrants who have daily put their lives at risk in recent months, not only to keep Britain moving, but by actively helping to save lives.

Many have urged the government, and in particular the Home Secretary, to re-evaluate the controversial bill taking into account the invaluable contribution of migrants, at both ends of the skills spectrum, in the ongoing battle against coronavirus.

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