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General Election 2015 Update on UK Immigration

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The question of immigration is a burning issue, especially in the run-up to the general election. Twenty years of rising immigration has meant that 6.5 million adults of working age now live in the UK, who were born abroad. Britain has been referred to as being an "Island of immigrants".

Immigration needed in the UK

Migration plays a hugely positive role in the UK workforce. A study published in November 2014 from University College London concluded that 'European immigrants who arrived in the UK since 2000 have contributed more than £20bn to UK public finances between 2001 and 2011. They have endowed the country with productive human capital that would have cost the UK £6.8bn in spending on education'. But in the fog of political rhetoric, there is often a disconnect between public perception and reality.

The Labour Government's introduction of the points-based immigration system in 2008 comprises of a five Tier points-based system for assessing immigration applications. This is of relevance to non EU/EEA workers. People from within the EU can live and work freely in the UK without having to come under the UK points based system. Migrant workers and students must gain points to qualify under a specific tier visa to enter or remain in, the UK. Tier 2 visas are for 'skilled workers' from outside the EEA with a job offer in the UK. The jobs are highly-skilled, usually at graduate level and must have a minimum salary £20,800 per year. Many occupations under Tier 2 will require much higher salary rates.

UK Tier 2 Visa Scheme for Skilled Workers

There is an annual cap on the number of Tier 2 (General) visas that can be granted. The cap currently stands at 20,700. People earning over £150,000 per year are excluded from the cap. However, the cap has never been reached. Probably because it has become so difficult applying for a Tier 2 visa that many employers do not bother. Employers applying for a Tier 2 visa need both a Tier 2 sponsorship licence and a 'certificate of sponsorship' for each employee they wish to sponsor.

Statistics show that only 1.7% of applications of this type were rejected in 2008. We are certain that the refusal rate is much higher now. Immigration and Security Minister, James Brokenshire says:

"The fact that fewer than two per cent of Tier-2 sponsor licence applications were refused under the old government is ample illustration of the open-door immigration policy and the incompetence of the UK Border Agency in administering it.'

Recently, the media reported of immigration officials cracking down on Tier-2 visa applications after it was discovered that a few employers were offering visas for jobs that either did not exist or were jobs that in reality were not at a high enough level for the Tier 2 visa scheme. The Government said it had tightened up the rules on giving Tier-2 visas by looking at not just the jobs being advertised but the size and background of the business looking to fill the vacancy.

UK Government and Cameron's failure to reach tens of thousands target

The total number of people arriving in the UK in the year to September 2014 was 624,000 - the highest on record. Some 320,000 left the country, giving the net immigration of 298,000, which is the highest since the record level of 320,000 in 2005. As part of his pre-2010 election promises, David Cameron outlined plans to reduce net migration to the UK to less than 100,000 (he actually said tens of thousands). Cameron's pledge has failed spectacularly, with immigration figures almost three times as high as the Tories promised.

Immigration statistics include immigration from the EU and immigration of dependents. For non EU/EEA workers there has been an increase in ten percent in the number of work visas granted. There has also been a significant decrease in work-related visa extensions and applications for indefinite leave to remain (also known as "permanent residence"):

Year ending June 2014, compared to previous 12 months
10% more work-related visas grantedup 14,799 to 159,302
37% fewer extensionsdown to 92,075
20% fewer permissions to stay permanentlydown to 48,492 can help with Tier 2 Visa Sponsorship Licences:

If you are an employer looking to hire professional level people in the UK from outside the EU we can help. We can help you with a Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence and help with compliance. Call 0344 991 9222 for further details.