The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) is calling for opinions on whether the minimum pay threshold of £40,000 is set at the right level for overseas employees brought to the UK on Intra Company Transfer visas (ICT).
This is part of a wider call for evidence to help the government set its immigration limits for 2012/13.
Last year the government introduced a policy where overseas workers entering the UK on ICT visas would have to be paid a minimum of £40,000. This was an attempt to stop businesses using this immigration route to bring in cheap labour. The ICT visa route is one which allows multinational companies to move their staff between the countries they operate in.
ICT visa immigration was left out of the government's immigration cap, which set the numbers of overseas workers allowed in the UK. This was worked out by analysing where there are skills gaps in the UK. About 80% of non-EU workers in the UK are on ICT visas and a high proportion of these are IT workers, many from India.
IT firms, including the Indian IT suppliers, are heavily criticised for allegedly using this route to bring low-cost labour into the UK to work on customer contracts. It is part of the reason why these companies can offer large cost reductions to customers.
IT workers from India make up a large proportion of the number of ICTs in the UK, while there are thousands of UK IT professionals out of work. As a result the exclusion of ICTs from the immigration cap has proved controversial.
UK IT workers claim that £40,000 is too low because many IT workers earn more. Critics point to the fact that tax-free expenses can be included in the salary.
The government has now asked the Migration Advisory Committee to call on anybody with an interest to give there views.
The questions regarding the pay threshold were:
- Is the £40,000 minimum salary threshold for intra-company transfers seeking to stay for 12 months or longer an appropriate proxy test to ensure that migrants meet the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) definition of senior managers and specialists?
- Should the £40,000 be a national rate or allow for regional variations in pay?
- Because current policy allows the £40,000 threshold to be met through a combination of salary and allowances, does the inclusion of non-salary remuneration undermine the use of the £40,000 threshold as a proxy test of skill level?