High-flying non-European professional migrant workers will be exempted from the British government’s annual UK immigration cap, which comes into effect in April.
This week the Home Office announced a radical shake up of the Tier 2 working visa system, including the figures for the cap on migration, but said that employers filling a vacancy with a salary of £150,000 or more will not be subject to the limit.
Home Office Minister Damian Green made clear that the decision to exempt those earning more than £150,000 a year from the annual limit was intended to make the UK as business-friendly as possible and to dispel claims that Britain was not open for business.
“This shake up is part of the government’s new annual limit on non-EU workers, which will take effect on April 6,” the Immigration Minister said.
The David Cameron Conservative led coalition government last year announced a permanent immigration quota intended to slash the number of non-EU nationals permitted to work in the country to around 20,700.
Under the new system, employers will have to apply for a Certificate of Sponsorship (COS) from the UK Border Agency for a specific post if they wish to bring someone to the UK.
Green said: “Britain needs to attract the brightest and the best to fill jobs gaps but this should never be at the expense of workers already here.
“We have worked closely with businesses while designing this system, and made it clear employers should look first to people who are out of work and who are already in this country.
“And those that do come here to work must know that we intend to make the route to settlement tougher. It can not be right that people coming to fill temporary skills gaps have open access to permanent settlement.”
The annual limit of 20,700 COS will be divided into 12 monthly allocations. Due to the likely demand in the first month, 4,200 COS will be made available to employers in April.
After that the limit will be set at 1,500 places per month. Any places that are unused each month will be rolled over to the following month.
In the event that the monthly allocation is over subscribed, COS applications will be ranked using a points system designed to favour jobs on the shortage occupation list, scientific researchers and those with a higher salary.
Once a COS has then been granted to an employer it must be assigned to the prospective employee within three months.
Workers from outside the EU who want to come to Britain will need to have a graduate level job, speak an intermediate level of English, and meet specific salary and employment requirements.
The cap on working migrants is part of the government’s plans to reduce overall immigration from the ‘hundreds of thousands to tens of thousands’ and will include a ‘clampdown on Tier 4 visas for non-EU students’.
The news will bring little cheer to the care industry which desperately needs shortage occupation listed Senior Care Workers, but are being thwarted by the interim immigration cap, which was ruled unlawful following a legal challenge by trade body ECCA.
MAC is the independent body which reports to the government on migration and labour issues, has recommended a new shorter list of occupations eligible under Tier 2 of the points-based system.
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