In June this year, the coalition government undertook a review of the current immigration system for skilled and highly skilled workers from outside the EU, concluding that with unemployment at its highest level for a decade, existing UK residents should be given first chance to occupy professional vacancies. The impact that this will have for international companies bringing skilled staff into the UK remains to be fully understood.
The proposed changes will not become permanent until after an interim, consultative stage that will last until the spring of next year, but in brief, temporary caps have already been put in place. It is predicted that the reduction of successful applications during the interim period will be about 5% of Tier 1 and Tier 2 applications.
Tier 1 General Visas allow people with skills, qualifications or significant work experience to live and work in the UK without restrictions. The Tier 1 General Visa has replaced the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme and does not require a job offer to be in place before application. It is this category of visa, that is essentially residency with a full work permit, that is being capped. For a start, the minimum point requirement has been raised from 75 to 80.
Tier 2 Skilled Visas allow skilled candidates with a job offer to immigrate to the UK and offer the possibility of permanent residence. Non EU nationals must have an offer of employment for a Tier 2 Skilled Visa and the employer must indicate that they have satisfied at least one of the following conditions when applying:
This criteria is also being capped to limit numbers and this could have a significant impact on companies wishing to bring their staff into the UK and on the numbers of transferees we see in our industry.
A public consultation process is underway and the views of businesses likely to be affected are being sought. The caps on Tier 1 and 2 are to be introduced on April 1st next year. If you would like to have your views made know to the consultation process, contact the UK Border Agency Migration Advisory Committee.
More details on the committee and the planned changes can be found at: http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/aboutus/workingwithus/indbodies/mac/