The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has said the salary threshold for non-UK architects applying for a general work visa should rise from £30,000 to £35,000
In a 278-page report, the panel largely dismissed calls for a ‘points-style’ immigration system but said salary thresholds should be reformed to reflect variations across professions.
The MAC is a Home Office-sponsored body tasked with reviewing migration policy and making recommendations. Its report is likely to inform the government’s migration bill, which is due to be introduced in March.
Overseas architects applying for a ‘general’ type-two visa to work in the UK must currently prove they have been offered a job paying at least £30,000 a year.
But under the changes recommended by the MAC, they would have to prove they had a job putting them in the top 75 per cent of UK-based architects by annual pay.
The MAC cited data from the Office for National Statistics’ Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings showing the threshold would, therefore, sit at £34,993 for architects, although this would change every year.
Under the MAC’s overall plans, all tier-two visa applicants would have to prove they would be part of the best-paid 75 per cent of their particular profession. This would mean the £30,000 threshold would be reduced for some jobs and increased for others.
RIBA chief executive Alan Vallance slammed the MAC for ‘fundamentally misunderstand[ing] the architecture profession’.
‘Increasing the salary threshold to almost £35,000 will severely impact smaller practices and those outside of London keen to benefit from international skills,’ he said.
‘Ensuring that the UK continues to attract and retain global talent is absolutely critical, and sadly these proposals fall short of providing the reassurance needed.’
In its report, the MAC acknowledged that many organisations that responded to a call for evidence felt salary thresholds should not exist.
It said this was ‘understandable’ as ‘running a business is rarely easy and salary thresholds do not make the job easier’.
But it argued that ‘salary thresholds prevent undercutting in in the labour market, ensuring that employers are not hiring migrants simply because they are cheaper’.
Elsewhere in the report, the MAC said an Australian-style points system could be implemented for the award of tier one ‘exceptional talent’ visas.
At the moment architects can qualify for a tier-one visa – in which applicants do not need to have a job lined up to gain entry to the UK – by passing two of three standards: having had significant media coverage in another country; winning an international award; and demonstrating an audience through an international exhibition or appearance.
At present, non-UK architects from the EU still have the unrestricted right to work in the UK, though this is likely to change following the end of the transition period at the end of the year.