London: The David Cameron government today
defended its decision to introduce an interim limit on skilled
workers from India and other countries outside the European
Union, despite concerns raised by the Confederation of British
Industry (CBI) and others.
The government has placed a temporary limit of 24,100
non-EU professionals until April 2011, when a permanent annual
limit will be announced. The cap has already adversely
affected companies who are unable to recruit the skills
required from India and elsewhere.
Damian Green, minister for immigration said: "The
interim limit was introduced to stop a rush of last minute
applications ahead of the annual limit being introduced in
April next year and the UK Border Agency has been working very
closely with businesses to ensure that these arrangements have
been implemented effectively".
Campaign groups such as Joint Council for the Welfare
of Immigrants have announced plans to mount a legal challenge
against the annual limit on the ground that the restrictive
measure did not get parliamentary approval.
Green said: "There are millions of people in Britain
who employers can freely recruit and I expect companies to
look to fill job vacancies from the resident labour force
before they look for skills outside the UK.
Last year, visas were granted to almost 36,000 workers
from outside the EU while we currently have hundreds of
thousands of unemployed graduates in subjects such as IT and
The CBI is one of the business organisations to have
responded to the government`s consultation on the annual
limit. Green added: "The ability of employers to fill
vacancies is affected by a wide range of factors including
their own training policies, pay and conditions and corporate
In the vast majority of cases it is unfair to blame
our limits for recruitment difficulties".
The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants has
not yet been given permission by the courts to seek a judicial
review of the annual limit.