‘U.K. needs more skilled migrants’

Industry asks govt. to raise the annual cap on the number of non-EU work visas

Published - February 01, 2018 08:48 pm IST

The British industry is calling on the government to raise the annual cap on the number of non-EU workers able to gain work visas, as well as an end to the government’s migration target, after it emerged that the cap had been hit two months in a row.

Recent Home Office data revealed that the monthly limits in both December and January for the number of Tier 2 visas available (the government has an annual cap of 20,7000) had been reached for the first time since October 2015, despite a recent hike in the minimum salary for applicants. This had knock-on consequences for industry, including the National Health Service (NHS), with several trusts reporting that they had been unable to recruit some of the doctors they had hoped to.

“Hitting the cap and limiting skilled workers coming to work from across the globe damages U.K. competitiveness,” warned Neil Carberry of the Confederation of British Industry.

Growing labour market

“If the U.K. is to make a success of Brexit and build a truly global Britain, then the non-EEA migration system must be fit for purpose. An end to the net migration target and a rise in the cap to reflect our growing labour market, is required to help businesses grasp new opportunities for growth.”

Under the Tier 2 (general) system — the most commonly used work route for Indian workers into the U.K. — once the monthly cap is reached, further certificates of sponsorship are allocated based on a points-based system, dependent on whether work for an occupation on the official shortage list is being applied for, whether the work is Ph-D level, and also on the basis of salary.

The result is that those in non-shortage occupations need higher salaries — £55,000 in December, and £46,000 in January. Applicants for Tier 2 visas must earn at least £30,000 under recent changes, and £20,800 for graduate recruits or under 26s.

The Confederation’s is not a lone voice. “The Tier 2 cap is absurd. It causes the U.K. to reject the brightest and best the Government says it wants to attract, warned Dr. Sarah Main, executive director of the Campaign for Science and Engineering, earlier this month.

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