Tightening tier 2 visa rules is a massive threat to London's status as a world-leading, global talent hub. That's the view of a top UK business group, who has warned the government that stricter rules for employing foreign workers from outside the EU will have detrimental impact on the UK's capital city to attract international talent.
Recently, the London First business group made a formal submission to the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) – an independent public body that advises the government on immigration issues – stating that tougher, tier 2 visa rules harms the prospect of companies recruiting the world's brightest and best.
The group said: "Business requires a UK immigration system that is flexible and supports the recruitment of overseas talent, not a system that hinders this process."
MAC asked to look at Tier 2 Visa Salary Thresholds
Following the General Election in May, Prime Minister David Cameron asked the MAC to consider new measures that would reduce migration to the UK from outside the European Economic Area (EEA). In particular, the MAC was asked to look at increasing the salary threshold for skilled foreign workers on tier 2 visas.
However, following an initial consultation carried out in June and July, a MAC report published in the summer advised the government against raising salary thresholds. The MAC report said: "The government should 'think twice' before taking steps to increase thresholds, which currently stand at £20,800 per year for new hires and £41,500 for long-term, tier 2 intra-company transfers."
A further excerpt from the committee's report, read: "There's little doubt that an immediate implementation of a salary threshold at this level would receive strong opposition from employers. Additionally, it would lead to serious problems across many industry sectors."
Second consultation on Tier 2 Visas
The MAC is currently carrying out a second consultation, which is expected to result in a more detailed review in December. London First's submission for the second consultation calls for the existing cap on the number of foreign workers to be ended and recommends leaving Tier 2 visa intra-company transfers uncapped, while keeping the current tier 2 salary thresholds at the same level.
Referring to recent examples of businesses in the capital unable to obtain tier 2 visas for graduates, London First said: "The tier 2 visa cap is putting UK-based graduate initiatives at risk."
The group added: "Companies will be forced to relocate these initiatives, many of which are planned well in advance, outside of the UK should access to international graduates not be guaranteed. As a consequence, the positions of UK native graduates involved in these initiatives would be affected."
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