The BBC reports today that three times as many migrant workers came to the UK on companies’ transfers schemes than on general visas for skilled workers, official figures show.
Firms using the intra-company transfer (ICT) scheme brought in 29,700 non-European staff in the 12 months to September 2011.
But those entering via visa schemes could be as low as 10,000, despite a cap of 21,700, the Home Office’s Migration Advisory Committee said.
Ministers want to cut net migration.
Prime Minister David Cameron says he wants the overall figure to reach “tens of thousands” by 2015. It is currently around 250,000.
The ICT scheme, used by firms to bring their own people into the UK for more than a year to do specific jobs, should be kept under review, the committee said.
The number of entrants to the UK via ICT per million of the population was “substantially higher for the UK” than for comparable countries such as the US, Spain, Canada, Australia, Japan, Germany and Ireland.
Committee chairman David Metcalf said it needed to be kept “under review”.
He suggested that if the government wanted to limit the use of ICTs, it could raise the £40,000 income threshold, increase the skill level required or limit the number of work permits any one sponsor could have.
But he said: “Some of these transfers are vital, such as the Japanese auto engineer testing cylinder heads made in Japan and training British workers to do such testing.
“Other types of intra-company transfers have evolved over time, particularly those used for third-party contracting in the information technology sector, where it is possible that the UK economy is benefiting in aggregate terms while at the same time some displacement of British workers is occurring.”
He added: “They are doing absolutely nothing wrong here, but it’s consultancy companies bringing workers in, typically IT workers, typically from India.”
They carry out some work in India and then come to the UK to do other work at the UK client’s base, before returning to India to complete the work, he said.
Professor Metcalf also said: “It’s here that I think we need to keep this under review. It’s this group which has grown substantially in the past decade, even in the last five years.
“It is the case these workers may well be displacing British IT workers, but equally it may well be that UK plc gains overall.”
One firm alone, which is a major manufacturer in Britain but also has a consultancy arm, brought in 4,000 migrant workers alone last year, Prof Metcalf said.
He added that if the government was concerned about bringing net migration down from about 250,000 now to “tens of thousands” by 2015, as Prime Minister David Cameron has said, it “should not hit the Hondas and Toyotas of this world, because that would look very badly on UK PLC”.
The number of ICTs had surged from around 20,000 in 2009 to about 30,000 in mid-2011, but had remained largely flat since then.
The Government’s “immigration cap” on migration has prevented smaller companies, for instance in the care industry, recruiting skilled staff workers from outside the EU.
Many care industry and catering businesses are reverting to Romanian, Bulgarian and other European workers, as the Government’s cap on migration, combined with newly imposed restrictions on Tier 2 and Tier 4 routes, has made it extremely difficult to recruit non-EU staff (on work permits and student visas).
The UK Immigration Minister recently announced that work restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian nationals have been extended until 2014.
Migration Advisory Committee figures suggest that the cap is having little impact on overall net migration figures. Multi-national companies are able to get around the cap by switching employees to the UK from abroad – and these figures are not even included in the net migration statistics.
And while the number of workers on capped routes fell, intra-company transfer numbers remain high.
This is likely to raise questions as to why thousands of overseas IT workers are using the transfer scheme, while British people with similar skills are “struggling to find work”.
The committee hints that restrictions could be tightened. Source BBC.
Unlike an IT company with a branch in India or the U.S., a care home which desperately needs Senior Care Workers cannot parachute someone in from overseas.
Looking at the wider picture, perhaps the question we should be asking is why companies are going to so much trouble to recruit or ‘transfer’ workers from abroad?
In November Immigration Matters reported that official figures revealed that 500 foreigners landed a job in Britain every day over the past year while the number of UK-born workers fell and unemployment hit a 17-year high.
The Office for National Statistics said the number of British-born workers has crashed by 311,000 in a year, equal to more than 850 a day. But in the same period, the number of foreign-born employees jumped by 181,000 – or 495 a day.
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Majestic College offer special packages for EU students. They also have a number of employers looking for staff right now and are willing to employ Bulgarians and Romanians.
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You could qualify for a tax refund if you are an overseas student, work permit holder, Tier 1, Yellow or Blue Card holder – in fact any visa type – even if you are no longer legal or even in the UK!