Author- Aamir Mohammed
The Home Office has asked experts to consider whether rules for migrants seeking long-term visas should be different for Wales and England.
The Migration Advisory Committee is to look at a proposal that migrants applying for five-year visas should have a minimum salary mooted at around £30,000.
Yet there are concerns that such a threshold would hit Wales harder than England as more migrants in Wales work in “semi-skilled or medium-skilled jobs” such as manufacturing with lower salaries.
In a letter to the committee (known as MAC), Home Secretary Sajid Javid asks the committee also to look whether the salary threshold should be the same or different across the UK.
He wrote: “The government accepts that median salaries and local labour markets vary throughout the United Kingdom.
“However, immigration is and will remain a reserved matter. We also believe that the immigration system must serve the best interests of the whole of the United Kingdom and that coherence is needed to enable businesses to transfer migrant workers throughout all parts of the UK.
“The MAC should therefore consider whether the conclusions they reach in relation to levels of salary thresholds are applicable to the whole of the United Kingdom or whether there is a need for greater regional variation.”
As part of the committee’s brief, it will look at a range of issues around the salary threshold including: what level it should be set at; how it should be set; what exceptions there should be; and what effect it would have on the UK workforce and public finances.
The concerns that a £30,000 minimum salary would hit Wales harder than England were raised by economist Professor Jonathan Portes in a review commissioned by the Welsh Government.
He called for the Welsh Government and businesses to press for a lower threshold, claiming £20,000 would “mitigate modestly” the potential impact.