The Government has announced it will cap the number of non-EU skilled migrants permitted to work in the UK to 21,700 next year, down from 28,000.
Theresa May, Home Secretary, told MPs that the UK entry cap on skilled workers without a job offer – categorised as Tier One migrants – will be slashed to 1,000. This is a reduction of 13,000, and will only be open to “investors, entrepreneurs and people of exceptional talent”.
According to a government statement, approximately one-third of those entering the UK through the Tier One route end up doing low-skilled jobs.
The cap on Tier Two workers – those with job offers – will be much higher at 20,700 but will be limited to occupations at graduate level.
Businesses bringing employees into the UK through intra-company transfers will be uncapped but they must earn more than £40,000 to stay more than 12 months.
May commented: “We will take action on all routes into the UK and these changes are crucial if we are to limit the numbers coming here to work, while still attracting the brightest and the best to the UK.”
John Cridland, director general of the CBI, said that the announcement showed that the Government had listened to the needs of business and acted to support the recovery.
“Crucially, the design of the new system prioritises the routes of entry that matter most to the economy,” he added. “The new system rightly gives priority to people with a job offer over those without one, so companies will still be able to access talent from around the world.”
However, shadow Home Secretary Ed Balls criticised the plans and suggested that the Government was backing out on its commitment to cut immigration numbers to the tens of thousands by 2015.
A report earlier this month by the Migration Advisory Committee, the independent body asked to recommend a level for the Government’s proposed immigration cap, said the number of visas for skilled workers issued needed to be between 37,400 and 43,700 for 2011/12.
The new immigration rules will take affect from April 2011, and a consultation will take place at a later date on student visas.
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