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The Government yesterday said that it would freeze rather than reduce the current annual limit for non-European Union (EU) skilled workers for the next two years and lower a key salary requirement.
The decision to freeze the cap on Tier 2 (General skilled workers) at 20,700, proposed in February by the Migration Advisory Committee, was widely applauded by business groups and other stakeholders. However the CIPD believe that other changes mean the number of available visas will fall by 25%.
The Tier 1 (post-study worker route), which is open to migrants who have recently graduated from UK universities, will be closed from April 2012. Instead, applicants will have to apply through the Tier 2 route. It is this change that the CIPD believes will effectively cut the number of visas available to non-EU workers by 25%.
Going forward, Tier 2 (General) applicants will be restricted to graduate-level vacancies and the numbers frozen. The Tier 2 limit does not apply to intra-company transfer applicants, who can stay in the UK for up to 5 years if they are paid more than £40,000 per year. Those paid between £24,000 and £40,000 will be able to enter for up to 12 months within a specified period.
Yesterday, the government also announced it was removing the requirement for organisations to advertise vacancies for highly skilled roles in JobCentre Plus as part of the Resident Labour Market Test.
Gerwyn Davies, CIPD Public Policy Adviser, comments: "Many employers will respond to today's news with a large sigh of relief. Frequent changes to immigration policy, that have often (been) made with little notice or publicity, and a growing number of restrictions have caused some concern and frustration among some employers in their attempt to build a productive and growth-driven workplace...Employers require certainty and access to talent to help drive growth within their organisations, and today's announcement delivers on both counts".
To read the full government announcement go to: http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/policyandlaw/statementsofchanges/2012/cm8337.pdf?view=Binary