Change to immigration cap could be 'disastrous for the UK'

The skilled immigration cap announced by the UK Government on 23 November 2010 is already coming under fire. The permanent skilled immigration cap will reduce the number of Tier 1 (General) visas, so called "highly skilled" visas, from 13,000 a year to 1,000 when it is implemented in April 2011.

Gedeon Rachman, blogger for the Financial Times, calls the cap "pointless and self-defeating". Rachman feels that the British public is upset with high levels of immigration coming from within the EU and through other routes such as asylum that he says the British Government has little contol over. So instead, the Government cracks down on the one area for which it can -- skilled immigration.

"So, unable effectively to tackle the kind of immigration that actually upsets people, the British government is taking aim at the one group of migrants that are largely uncontroversial and that unambiguously contribute to the country's well-being," Rachman wrote.

Writing in The Guardian, Imran Khan, director of the Campaign for Science and Engineering said that the UK is only shooting itself in the foot by slashing highly skilled immigration. Khan stated that "there has been considerable and consistent concern from the science and engineering community that the cap on non-EU immigration could be disastrous for the UK."

The oil and gas industry is also concerned with the immigration cap, specifically changes to the intra-company transfer route, one of the Tier 2 visas in the UK's points based system. The industry feels that the new limits would hurt the ability of oil and gas companies to assemble teams of specialists.

Speaking in the Oil Voice, a website devoted to the oil and gas industry, employment law expert Linda Beedie criticised the changes to the intra-company transfer scheme. Beedie feels that the new £40,000 salary limit for employees staying in the UK for more than a year is just "a cap by the back door."

"The intra company transfer route is essential to the continued strength and competitiveness of British industry," Beedie said.

If you wish to gain entry to the UK under the Tier 1 visa or Tier 2 visa scheme it may be best to apply as soon as possible. It will be more difficult in future.