New annual limit for non-European workersMonday, November 29th, 2010
On 23 November, the Government announced a range of new measures to restrict the number of workers that can come to the UK to work from outside Europe. The changes, which are intended to apply from April 2011, are
- to introduce an annual limit of 21,700 for those coming into the UK under the skilled and highly skilled routes – 20,700 under Tier 2 (General) and 1,000 under the new ‘exceptional talent’ route
- to raise to £40,000 the minimum salary for those coming under the Tier 2 (Intra company transfer) route for more than 12 months
- to restrict Tier 1 to all but entrepreneurs, investors and the exceptionally talented
- to require occupations in Tier 2 (General) to be at graduate level.
The government decided to make the changes to Tier 1 when it was revealed that approximately one-third of those coming through this route were actually doing low-skilled jobs once they were in the UK.
Applicants under Tier 2 will still be required to apply for a visa from the UK Border Agency through the points-based system, will have to be of graduate level, be sponsored by an employer and will be awarded points based on scarcity of skills and salary. However, they will be competing against other applicants for a visa to enter the UK and, in months when the limit is oversubscribed, those with the most points will qualify for one of the certificates of sponsorship available each month.
Separately, businesses can bring in their own employees through the Tier 2 (Intra company transfer) route – but they must be earning more than £40,000 to stay more than 12 months, and their stay will be restricted to 5 years.