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UK’s annual immigration cap on non-EU workers starts 6 April | Immigration Matters

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The Government’s flagship plan to reduce immigration into the UK commenced on 6 April, with the start of the new annual limit on non-EU workers.

The UK Border Agency said that the cap, along with ‘radical changes recently introduced to the student route and plans to tackle permanent settlement’, will see ‘net migration fall back down to the tens of thousands’.

Under the annual limit, employers will be able to bring only 20,700 people from outside the EU to work in skilled professions under Tier 2 (General) of the points-based system.

A further 1,000 visas will be made available to people of ‘exceptional talent’, to ensure that Britain remains open to the brightest and the best.

The 1,000 exceptional talent visas will be given to those who experts believe will make the biggest contribution to science and the arts in the UK.

Prospective workers will need to have a graduate-level job offer, speak an intermediate level of English and meet specific salary and employment requirements. Those earning a salary of £150,000 or more will not be subject to the limit.

Immigration Minister Damian Green said:

‘The annual limit will not only help reduce immigration down to sustainable levels but will protect those businesses and institutions that are vital to our economy.

‘The new system was designed in consultation with business. We have made clear that as the recovery continues, we need employers to look first to people who are out of work and who are already in this country.

‘We are overhauling all routes of entry to tackle abuses, make the system more effective and bring net migration back down to the tens of thousands.’

The Intra Company Transfer route (ICT), which is not part of the annual limit, will also be changed in 3 ways:

  • the job will have to be in an occupation on the graduate occupation list;
  • only those paid £40,000 or more will be able to stay for more than a year – they will be given permission to stay for 3 years, with the possibility of extending for a further 2 years; and
  • those paid between £24,000 and £40,000 will be allowed to come to the UK for no longer than 12 months, at which point they must leave the UK and will not be able to re-apply for 12 months.

Tier 1 of the points-based system will be restricted to all but entrepreneurs, investors and people of exceptional talent as the old Tier 1 (General) category has been completely abolished due to widespread evidence of abuse.

The ‘Exceptional Talent’ route will be open to current and prospective leaders in the fields of science, engineering and the arts and will allow us to continue to facilitate those who have the most to offer the UK.

Under the new visa rules for investors, those who invest large sums of money will see their right to settle permanently in the UK speed up.

Those who invest £5 million will be allowed to settle here after 3 years, and those investing £10 million or more will be allowed to settle after 2 years.

Entrepreneurs will also be able to settle in the UK more quickly, if they create 10 jobs or turn over £5 million in a 3-year period.

In addition to these changes, new rules for settlement and asylum will also come into effect today.

The changes to the settlement criteria include:

  • a clearer criminality requirement for all applicants;
  • a new income requirement, and reform of the English language requirement, for those on work routes.

Further details of the changes to settlement can be found in today’s settlement announcement.

If you have any comments to raise or questions to ask about the reforms across the immigration system, you can send them to Immigration Minister Damien Green by emailing or via twitter using @ukhomeoffice and the hashtag #askdamiangreen by 20 April.

The Home Office will post a film of Damian Green’s answers on our website and their Youtube channel after 20 April.

Employer sponsors have had to reapply for Certificate of Sponsorship or CoS allocations in the hope that they will now be able to recruit skilled migrant workers on Tier 2 visas following the end of the interim cap imposed last year.

However, many of the jobs, such as Senior Care Worker, have now been removed from the shortage occupations list or now fall below the new graduate level job category.

Some employers are looking to recruit Romanian or Bulgarian workers provided they can obtain yellow card registration certificates  (BR1)to work in the UK whilst studying for a British qualification.

But many employers are unaware of the WRS and do not even know the difference between A8 and Bulgarian and Romanian EU members who do not enjoy the same rights. See Free Movement of EU nationals explained.

See also:

Minister will not back down on Romanian and Bulgarian work permits and restrictions

Immigration Rules for Bulgarian and Romanian nationals

EU migration policies are ‘mad’ says Lord Digby Jones


Worker Registration Scheme to close

Free Movement of EU nationals explained

Higher UK immigration fees from 6 April 2011

Weekly UK Immigration News Round up 03 April 2011

UKBA publish Statement of Intent and Transitional Measures for Student Visas

If you need any immigration advice or are worried about the new immigration rules or need help with Sponsorship or Work Permits, Visa, ILR/Settlement, Citizenship, dependant visa or an appeal against a refusal please email: or visit

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3 Responses to “UK’s annual immigration cap on non-EU workers starts 6 April”
Read them below or add one

  1. The sooner were out the eu the better, people dont just come here to work, earn money then go home, they are settling here, close the doors!!!!!!!!!!

  2. […] UK’s annual immigration cap on non-EU workers starts 6 April […]

  3. […] permanent annual cap of 21,700 came into effect on 6 April, but it is not the only cap that is preventing employers hiring non-EU migrant […]

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