Immigration minister’s plans for migrant worker fee hike slammed by campaign group Highly Skilled Migrant Programme Forum

The government has been accused of treating migrant workers “like cash machines” after it hiked up the costs of hiring them.

Immigration minister Liam Byrne last week revealed plans to charge firms with 50 employees or more £1,000 to register as sponsors allowed to bring in migrant workers under the new points-based system.

He also said it would cost £170 for a work permit, meaning employers wishing to hire just one migrant worker will face a whopping bill of £1,170 – up 580% compared with the present system.

Amit Kapadia, director of campaign group the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP) Forum, told Personnel Today: “No employers will be interested in taking on a migrant worker on a probationary period when they have to find more than £1,000 up front.”

The cost to a foreign worker wishing to enter the UK on an HSMP visa will soar from £400 to £600.

“It is unfair. They are trying to exploit migrants, treating them like cash machines,” said Kapadia.

Employer groups also hit out at the government over the increased charges.

CBI deputy director-general John Cridland said: “By seeking to recover far more than the cost of processing the application, the government risks putting up a barrier to firms hiring people with the skills they need.”

The Home Office insisted the charges were fair.

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