Highly skilled workers from outside the European Union will have to be coming to a job in Britain paying them at least £40,000 a year under new government plans, the Sunday Telegraph has revealed.
The proposals are to be unveiled this week as ministers reveal the first annual “cap” on immigration into Britain which will apply from next April.
Last week Professor David Metcalf, chairman of the independent Migration Advisory Committee, recommended a total limit of between 37,400 and 43,700 workers a year from outside the EU.
Mr Metcalf also recommended a 13 to 25 per cent cut in the number of “Tier 1” highly-skilled workers and “Tier 2” skilled migrants coming to the UK, despite worries from employers that they will be unable to fill key posts.
The Sunday Telegraph understands that under current plans Tier 1 migrants will in future have to come into a job paying at least £40,000 a year – putting the large majority of them into the 40 per cent tax bracket – with a contract for at least 12 months.
New categories of Tier 1 immigrant will be unveiled including “investor”, “major businessman” and “special talent.”
In June, the Home Office introduced a temporary limit of 24,100 workers to enter the country before April 2011, when this cap will be replaced by permanent measures.
Any increase in overall numbers allowed in will be seen as a victory for Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, who has protested on behalf of employers that they must be allowed to attract the best talent from overseas.
Mr Cable said two months ago he was being warned by business leaders that companies were relocating overseas because of what they saw as harsh restrictions in Britain from employing people from outside the EU.
The issue is one of the biggest fault lines between Conservative ministers and their Liberal Democrat coalition partners.
In the last year of the Labour government, net migration – the number of people coming to live in Britain compared with those emigrating – stood at almost 200,000.
The coalition has pledged to at least halve this by 2015 – largely by cutting down the number of skilled workers. Source: Sunday Telegraph.
Earlier today Prime Minister David Cameron said that immigration to Britain is “unacceptably high” and must be cut, but insisted that this can be achieved whilst ensuring businesses can still import talent.
But his Business Secretary Vince Cable has openly spoken out against official government policy.
In a statement to the FT in September, the Liberal Democrat MP said that the immigration rules and immigration cap are causing “a lot of damage to business industry“.
Highly skilled workers and fee paying students are already flocking to countries like Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
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