100,000+ people are employed by charities. Some of them are on a Tier 2 visa. There are 31,000 people in the UK on a Tier 2 visa, so there might be as many as several thousand of them working for charities.
People working in the third sector will not get paid the same as those in the private or public sectors. This is the unfortunate nature of charity. Because they do valuable work for noble causes, they are more likely to earn under £35,000. So they'll be "forced to leave the UK voluntairily", as the Home Office says.
Some people have said that the demand of this petition is a bit obscure so hopefully we can clarify it in this blog post.
The third sector refers to charities, rather than the public or private sectors. These encompass a wide variety of jobs, professions and industries. It includes counsellors, IT professionals, doctors, legal experts, and more. Some of these professions are already on the Shortage Occupation List (or "SOL"), while others have an obvious surplus. But we would happily argue that people willing to work for a charity, whatever their actual profession, are in short supply.
The SOL is a list of occupations that the Home Office is eager to recruit from abroad, and to retain any migrants in the UK working in those professions. It has been used to save nurses from the £35k threshold. You can view it here, but make sure to sign the petition first! The SOL is dedicated specifically to occupations and industries that the Government would like to foster and encourage.
The Migration Advisory Committee (or "MAC") is an independent committee that advises the Home Office on matters of migration, as the name suggests. The Home Office commissions them to study specific migration issues. Most recently they were commissioned to study the teaching industry. The Home Office wanted to know about how the £35,000 settlement threshold (you may have heard of it by now) will impact the teaching profession. Once the report is published, the Home Office will act upon the report's recommendations. The question they're specifically asking is whether teachers should be included on the SOL, and thus exempt from the threshold - allowed to remain in their homes and lives.
The Home Office is going to need to commission the MAC to conduct another study, examining how charities benefit from being able to recruit non-EU skilled workers. The MAC will put out another call for evidence, asking their usual well-thought-out questions of the entire charitable sector. Would being exempt from the £35k threshold make working for a charity more attractive? How badly will the £35k threshold impact staffing levels and future recruitment? They will probably stage another consultation event day, where they invite relevant organisations to attend and discuss the issue with MAC representatives. This process will take several months, from the first day of evidence collection to the publication of the report we're asking for.
Our 'scrap the £35k threshold' petition was dramatic. It was how a lot of people even found out about the £35k threshold existed at all. The surprise and drama, combined with the press attention, is probably how it gathered 114,000 signatures in just a few months. However our latest petition is calling for a slow, uncertain, fairly obscure process that will save only a small amount of the 31,000 Tier 2 skilled workers (all of whom we aim to save eventually). These baby steps are less inspiring than our first petition, so we do not expect it to get as many signatures. But we only need 10,000 in order for the Government to write a response, per their own rules.