The British government on Thursday reinstated the interim cap on non-European Union immigration which was struck down by court last week.
Immigration Minister Damian Green said the court’s ruling was based on a “technicality” and it had been rectified. The cap was now “back up and running”, he said in a statement.
The measure, limiting visas for non-EU skilled workers to 10,832 until April 2011 when a fixed annual cap would kick in, was brought in by Home Secretary Theresa May in July. Last week, the High Court declared it “unlawful” on grounds that it was introduced without Parliamentary approval.
“There can be no doubt that she was attempting to side-step provisions for Parliamentary scrutiny set up under provisions of the 1971 Immigration Act, and her attempt was for that reason unlawful,” said Lord Justice Sullivan, one of the two judges who gave the ruling.
Mr. Green said the ruling was “about process, not policy” and the objections raised by the court had since been addressed by the government.
“This ruling is about process not policy — the policy of having a limit has not been found to be unlawful. The Court’s ruling rests on a technicality, which we have set right today to ensure that from now the interim limit is back up and running,” he said.
The government, he stressed, was “firmly committed” to reducing migration to “tens of thousands” as promised by the Tories in their election manifesto.
“This judgment does not affect the annual cap in any way. The interim limit was a temporary measure introduced specifically to tackle a rush of applications ahead of the introduction of the annual limit. The government remains firmly committed to reducing net migration to the tens of thousands,” he said.
He also announced that the interim limit for highly-skilled workers (Tier One) had now been reached and no more visa applications for this category would be accepted.
The cap was challenged by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants and the English Community Care Association on grounds that the Home Secretary had deliberately rushed in the measure to avoid a discussion in Parliament. They also argued that the cap would have a potentially “catastrophic” effect on the care sector which relied heavily on workers for non-EU countries, especially India, Philippines and South Africa.