UK announces migration cap of 21,700

The Britsh government Tuesday announced a cap of 21,700 on the number of skilled workers from India and other countries outside the European Union from April 2011.

Last Updated: Nov 23, 2010, 22:53 PM IST

London: The Britsh government Tuesday
announced a cap of 21,700 on the number of skilled workers
from India and other countries outside the European Union from
April 2011, a move likely to adversely impact Indian
professionals seeking to move to the UK.

The figure is a cut of 6,300 on the equivalent figure
for 2009.

Once the figure of 21,700 is reached, it is envisaged
that no further employment visas will be granted during the
year.

The cap excludes employees transferred by their
companies from another country. The Inter-Company Transfer
visa route is mostly used by Indian companies.

Such employees will be allowed to stay for up to five
years if their annual salary exceeds 40,000 pounds, Home
secretary Theresa May announced.

Announcing the cap, May said the number of "tier one"
people - highly-skilled workers looking for a job - will
be cut by 13,000 to 1,000 plus "exceptional people" including
sports stars and scientists.

The number of tier two workers - those who already
have job offers - will rise by 7,000.

May said the system of trying to attract the brightest
and the best had not worked.

"At least 30 per cent of tier one migrants work in
low-skilled occupations such as stacking shelves, driving
taxis or working as security guards and some don`t have a job
at all," the Home Secretary added.

Overall, the number of people allowed to come and work
in the UK from outside the EU will be cut from around 196,000
to the "tens of thousands", May explained.

"We will have to take action across all routes to
entry - work visas, student visas, family visas - and break
the link between temporary routes and permanent settlement,"
she told MPs.

Labour`s shadow home secretary, Ed Balls, responded
to the announcement by saying the Government was in "retreat".

Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged to halve net
immigration to the UK so it is in the "tens of thousands".

In September, May announced an interim cap, limiting
the number of non-EU workers allowed into the UK to 24,100 up
to to April 2011.

Buffeted by major funding cuts and looming cuts in the
number of high-fee paying students from India and other non-EU
countries, UK universities have lodged a strong protest
against moves that are likely to seriously jeopardise their
finances and global reputation.

Many universities depend on income from international
students to meet their costs.

The cut in student visas is prompted by the David
Cameron`s government intention to reduce immigration into
Britain, and reports of large scale abuse of the student visas
in the Indian sub-continent.

The Home Office`s Migration Advisory Committee last
week said that up to 80 per cent of the reduction in net
migration, which stood at about 196,000 cases last year, would
have to be borne by students and family reunion cases.
The prediction was met with a chorus of protest from
universities, which fear that the flow of students from
outside the European Union will be affected, even if the
government focuses its efforts on those studying on courses
below degree level.

`Universities UK`, the umbrella body for universities
in the UK, warned against such a reduction, saying: "Our
established competitors, together with developing higher
education systems, are competing with us for academic talent.

This competition is real and urgent and we simply
cannot compete if our hands are tied by artificial migration
limits."

Besides cuts in student visas, universities also fear
that they will not be able to recruit the right skills for
academic positions due to the controversial annual limit of
non-EU professionals who can enter the UK for work.
Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities UK,
said: "The government`s proposals to limit the migration of
highly skilled workers will be damaging to UK universities as
they will be unable to compete effectively for international
staff. UK universities have an excellent reputation for high
quality teaching and research."

She added: "But to maintain that reputation our
universities need to be able to recruit the best staff and
compete against other countries to attract academic talent.
This competition is real and urgent and we simply cannot
compete if our hands are tied by artificial migration limits.

"The UK will lose out if these recommendations are
accepted by the government."

They said it was a "sad reflection" that scientists
and engineers could not be afforded the same exception to the
rules as Premier League footballers.

PTI