Law Society criticises UK Government immigration proposals

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The Law Society has criticised the UK Government's proposal to implement new restrictions on Tier 2 immigration. They feel that new limits would greatly reduce the ability of UK law firms to recruit international talent.

The UK Government is currently considering removing the Tier 2 visa as a visa category that leads to permanent residence after 5 years of residence in the UK. This is part of a wider review of UK immigration policy aimed at reducing immigration to the "tens of thousands" each year.

The Law Society feels that removing the permanent residence right would severely damage the UK's global competitiveness at a time when the economy needs any boost it can get. Many law firms in the UK depend on international talent.

"Law firms turn to the international market because they are engaged in a global competition for talent with international firms from other jurisdictions, such as the US," said Law Society president John Wotton.

"Global legal businesses are interested in recruiting only the best talent. Non-EEA migrants employed by law firms tend to be high earners. They will be spending their disposable income and paying taxes in the UK," he added.

Recent immigration restrictions are not only affecting law firms, but their clients as well.

"Our clients are certainly telling us that the cap is having an economic impact, as organisations have had to delay hiring key individuals and consider relocating roles overseas," said a PricewaterhouseCoopers partner.