Capping business immigration

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24 November 2010


On Tuesday, the Government announced new details of the cap on the migration of skilled workers from outside of the EEA (the European Union plus Norway, Lichtenstein and Iceland) into the United Kingdom. The changes are to come into effect from April 2011. The new targets come off the back of the Government's 5 year plan to reduce annual net migration down to "tens of thousands" of migrants. The cap affects the top two tiers of the UK's points-based immigration system which are the tiers most often used by UK businesses looking to employ skilled overseas nationals.


The number of visas available for Tier 1 migrants will be slashed significantly to an annual cap of 1,000 and will now be reserved only for entrepreneurs, investors and those who are "exceptionally talented". While Tier 1 has historically been a useful option in relation to senior or highly skilled individuals, the cap will mean that Tier 1 will become a much less common route to bring skilled workers into the UK.


For Tier 2 highly skilled workers sponsored by UK businesses, the number of visas available will be capped at 21,700 per year. While this does impose restrictions on UK businesses, the good news is that intra-company transfers (ICTs) under Tier 2 will be excluded from the cap. This is an important concession for global businesses who rely on moving skilled workers to other countries to ensure business continuity, training and skills transfer, planning and effective implementation of new projects. The ICT route will become a key way of employing overseas skilled workers in the UK, but it will be subject to a number of restrictions including a requirement that employees must be earning more than £40,000 when in the UK.


Businesses would be well advised to look ahead to their recruitment needs for 2011 to ensure applications are made before the relevant cap has been reached and, for international groups, the ICT route will be a key route to consider.

The Burges Salmon Business Immigration team can help with obtaining sponsor's licences, advising on ways of bringing overseas nationals into the UK, carrying out audits to establish the immigration status of existing employees, reviewing recruitment procedures to help minimise the risk of offences being committed and dealing with civil fines imposed for the illegal employment of overseas nationals.

For further information on immigration or employment law issues, please contact Roger Bull or Huw Cooke.

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