A joint survey conducted by the London Chamber of Commerce and ComRes, a leading research consultancy, has revealed that less than a quarter of London business executives think they would be able to afford a new, Tier 2 UK immigration fee due to come into effect in April 2017. The findings have prompted fears of a skills gap in Britain’s capital city.
To employ non-EU citizens on a Tier 2 visa businesses already have to go to the trouble and expense of applying for a tier 2 sponsorship licence. This new fee will add yet another cost to business and will most likely damage the UK economy.
The £1,000 annual fee, which is to be charged for each non-EU employee recruited by a company on a Tier 2 visa, was slammed by business groups nationwide when it was announced in January 2016. The charge was suggested by the anti-immigration Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), after being commissioned by the government to identify ways to reduce UK immigration numbers.
Aside from the annual £1,000 tax imposed on businesses, the MAC also made recommendations to increase the minimum salary threshold for skilled foreign workers on Tier 2 visas by a staggering 44 per cent from £20,800 to £30,000.
When presenting their recommendations to former Prime Minister, David Cameron, the MAC said that the suggested changes would ‘result in at least 27,600 fewer foreign workers coming to Britain each year, even if businesses made no behavioural changes to their hiring practices.’
Sanwar Ali, Editor of workpermit.com News has the following comments to make:
The Tier 2 Visa scheme and Tier 2 Sponsorship licence scheme is already very restrictive. We have in the past expressed our concerns about the “Police State” mentality of the Home Office at times. Home Office officials sometimes go to extreme and we believe “extralegal” lengths to revoke Tier 2 sponsorship licences. There are even examples of the Home Office repeatedly losing High Court Judicial Review cases and yet still continuing with litigation. This is surely a dreadful waste of tax payer’s money. Surely, the Home Office must have better things to do.
We are concerned that the Home Office and an organisation sponsored by the Home Office instead of looking at serious breaches in immigration controls are looking at easy options to try and “set an example” to try and dissuade people from breaking the immigration rules. A climate of fear exists where people are now scared that some minor issue (or an issue that does not exist at all) that even a specialist would not notice is blown out of all proportion and results in revocation of a tier 2 sponsorship licence or results in an immigrant unjustly having to leave the UK. There are also reports of officials making false statements and fabricating evidence to justify revoking a tier 2 sponsorship licence. Whatever Government is in power this sort of behaviour should end at once and those behaving in such a way should be punished.
Businesses fear a skills gap due to increased Tier 2 Visa Costs
According to the London Chamber of Commerce and ComRes survey, one-third of London businesses will seek to cut costs elsewhere in order to pay the annual Tier 2 visa fee. Meanwhile, 37 per cent said they would look to train or recruit British workers as an alternative.
45 per cent of businesses said that if they’re unable to recruit British workers it will result in a skills gap. Under the UK Immigration Act 2016, companies sponsoring skilled migrant workers from outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) on tier 2 visas will be subject to the £1,000 annual fee. Small and non-profit organisations will be charged a lower fee of £364.
Chief Executive of the London Chamber of Commerce, Colin Stanbridge, said: “While we obviously recognise the aim behind this act, we are concerned that the charge will hit many of those for whom it was not actually intended.”
“Our findings suggest that businesses do not always have a choice when hiring and are looking for those who have the right skills regardless of whether they are from the EEA or not. These charges will have a significant effect on businesses and may force some to cease trading either because they can no longer afford to or they can no longer find the skills,” Stanbridge added.
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