It notes that the practical implementation of the new for managed migration on the whole gets a cautious welcome, in particular for the emphasis it places on transparent and objective criteria. The Committee identified that that awarding points for past earnings or academic qualifications ignores ability or experience. It therefore recommends that professional training and experience should be recognised under the system. The report also concludes that several key structures upon which the system is built (most notably the calibration of points, the shortage occupation lists, the compliance responsibilities placed on sponsors and the introduction of administrative review) should be revised.
The Committee reported that employers should be able to employ outside of the EEA area where required and failure to do so could harm the UK’s global competitiveness. Notwithstanding the above, the Government’s priority must be on retraining the British workforce, stating that it must ‘redouble its efforts to link skills shortages to training’.
The Committe was also critical of long term, separate ‘lists’ of shortage occupations which attract additional points and says long term and structural shortages should be addressed by adapting the points criteria, not by these ‘lists.
Amongst other warnings are the failure by the UK Border Agency to test the major IT programmes underpinning the Points Based System that will have ‘potentially dramatic’ consequences for the reputation and finances of UK businesses and education. It states that the Border Agency must provide a faster and better informed service to sponsors of migrants if it expects them to take over enforcement of immigration conditions.
International artists are being deterred from traveling to the UK due to the slow processing of new biometric visas by the UK Border Agency, which is ‘consistently failing to meet its own target times for visa processing'. This is has been clearly an issue faced by applicants and lawyers alike. The Committee says UK BA must establish more biometric collection points worldwide, and ‘improve its processing times as a matter of urgency' (a request that firms of lawyers have been making directly to the UKBA).
The removal of appeal rights under the PBS has also been pointed to as inevitably leading to a rise in judicial review challenges, and probably a further an increase in representations made to Members of Parliament to intercede in individual cases. Such responses to representations to MPs are already slow and poor, and the UKBA is ‘spectacularly failing to meet its target of responding to 95% of correspondence within 20 days'.
Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP, Chairman of the Committee said:
"It seems spurious that a fresh Master’s graduate in their first job should qualify as a ‘highly skilled migrant’, where a businessperson of 25 years’ global experience earning hundreds of thousands of pounds without a Master’s degree does not. Similarly, just tacking on lists of “awkward” professions that don’t fit the system is not a substitute for adapting the points structure so that it works.
"We also feel that discretion is being applied in illogical ways – for example, no special provision has been made for exceptional cases of international artists or performers who occasionally require emergency visas, rendering them unable to perform in this country – whereas in other situations special exemptions have been granted for no apparent reason: why for example should footballers be exempt from the requirement to speak English? That seems to be a case of money speaking louder than merit."