UK migrants` annual cap may face legal challenge

The annual cap of 24,100 professionals from India and other non-EU nations to be announced tomorrow will be open to challenge in the courts.

London: The annual cap of 24,100
professionals from India and other non-European Union
countries to be announced tomorrow will be open to challenge
in the courts, an influential group representing professionals
from India and other non-EU states today said.

Home Secretary Theresa May is scheduled to announce
the temporary cap to be implemented between now and April 2011

It means that British employers will not be able to
employ any Indian and other non-EU professionals once the
limit of 24,100 is reached.

Amit Kapadia, director of Highly Skilled Migrant
Programme (HSMP) Forum that fought a successful legal
challenge against immigration rules, said the government`s
move to impose an "illogical" cap will be opposed.

"We don’t think that any sort of cap would work out.
It would be unworkable. The effects remain to be seen, but if
the government really tries to implement drastic measures it
is going to cause a lot of unhappiness, especially among
migrants who work hard and pay taxes," he said.

"A consultation should take place with stakeholders to
assess impact of such measures otherwise any such
unsubstantiated measures with procedural defects will be
reviewable in the courts," he added.

The cap will adversely affect Indian professionals
because most non-European Union migrants to the UK come from
India. Indians have been among the largest group of
professionals recruited in the IT, medicine, education and
services sector every year.

"Taking such drastic measures will affect UK
businesses and in turn it will affect the economy. What we
feel is there shouldn’t be any knee jerk reaction just to show
that the government is tough on immigration," Kapadia said.

"The government needs to keep in mind the possible
consequences which will be faced by employers due to such
unfair measures? he underlined.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for London mayor Boris Johnson
also expressed opposition to the annual cap.

"A crude cap could be very detrimental to the free
movement of the talented, creative and enterprising people who
have enabled London to be such a dominant global force," he

Sections of Prime Minister David Cameron government
and sections of British trade and industry have opposed the
annual cap plan on the ground that the British economy will
ultimately suffer if employers are not allowed to hire the
right kind of professionals from abroad if talent in certain
sectors is not available within the country.

The agreement between coalition government partners
Conservatives and Liberal Democrats says: "The Government
believes that immigration has enriched our culture and
strengthened our economy, but that it must be controlled so
that people have confidence in the system".

"We will introduce an annual limit on the number of
non-EU economic migrants admitted into the UK to live and
work. We will consider jointly the mechanism for implementing
the limit," it said.

In its pre-election pronouncements, the Conservative
party had favoured the reduction of net immigration to the
levels of the 1990s? "tens of thousands a year, instead of
the hundreds of thousands every year under the Labour

Kapadia said in the 1990s the overall net immigration
was around 70,000 every year. In 2009, the figure was nearly
150,000. Taking steps to bring the figure down to 70,000 now
will mean a drastic cut, which would be unworkable and would
be liable to face legal challenges.

Michael Gove, Schools secretary, and David Willetts,
Universities minister, have reportedly raised concerns about
the annual cap at a cabinet committee meeting chaired by
deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

The Liberal Democrats had strongly opposed the cap
during the election but agreed to it in the coalition

According to a media report, the coalition has been
forced to water down the plan to cap immigration following a
revolt in the cabinet.

Under the revised scheme, executives from
multinational companies and other highly paid foreigners will
be exempt from the strict limits being placed on economic

"The first draft of the plan was highly bureaucratic
and would have swaddled businesses in more regulation," a
cabinet source told The Sunday Times.

"But we are now satisfied that companies that want to
move senior managers to this country will not in practice be
hit by the cap," the source said.

Business Secretary Vince Cable made it clear yesterday
that he shared the concerns of his cabinet colleagues.

"The government is looking at how to reconcile an
immigration cap with the need for flexibility to allow
business to operate and universities to attract people from
overseas," Cable said.

In a related development, former Immigration Minister
Phil Woolas accused the Home Secretary of watering down the
Tory pledge to bar immigrants unless they can speak good

The promise was part of Cameron`s election campaign
but it has now been disclosed that families of asylum seekers
allowed to settle in the UK will be exempt from the ban.


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