Skilled migrant workers could be put off coming to UK under immigration changes

Skilled migrant workers could be put off coming to work in the UK following further changes to the points-based immigration system.

Tier 2 migrants seeking to transfer between countries and work at their company’s British offices will no longer be able to clock up time in the UK to contribute towards a permanent right to stay, the Home Office has warned.

Industry experts have warned this change to the intra-company transfer route (ICT) could put migrants off applying to come to the UK, while employers will have to think more carefully about whether they hire migrant workers for permanent positions.

Karen Macpherson, an employment partner at law firm DLA Piper, told Personnel Today: “The changes could put people off using the ICT as they no longer have the same rights to permanent residence. It’s now just a question of coming temporarily to undertake a particular task, then going back to the business in another country.”

Other changes to the intra-company transfer route…

  • Established staff must have worked at the company for 12 months, rather than six months, before they can come to the UK.
  • Graduate trainees must have worked for their company for three months, and can stay in the UK for a year.

Migrant workers seeking permanent residence in the UK must work in a role for five years. Macpherson added the ICT changes could encourage employers to “look more locally” for permanent positions, where British workers can guarantee a permanent right to work in the country.

“It will force employers to think more carefully about permanent vacancies and filling them from elsewhere as migrants are not in a position where they will obtain permanent residence after five years,” she said.

Amit Kapadia, executive director of campaign group the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme Forum, said the changes amounted to “exploitation” of skilled migrants, and would be a “drawback for employers” wanting to bring overseas staff to the UK.

He said: “Employers will find it more difficult to attract migrants through this route.”

But Gerwyn Davies, public policy adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said the changes “should not undermine our ability to attract the brightest and best talent from abroad”. He said the majority of workers coming through the ICT route were young, and did not intend to stay indefinitely.

Those already in the UK on ICTs will not be affected by the changes.


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