The government has announced plans to cap skilled non-EU workers entering the UK by one fifth, from 28,000 a year down to 21,700, although there will be exceptions.
Speaking in the Commons today, home secretary Theresa May said: “We will have to take action across all routes to entry – work visas, student visas, family visas – and break the link between temporary routes and permanent settlement.”
Tier two visas
The number of tier two workers – those who already have job offers – will rise by 7,000. Skilled workers with job offers will be capped at 20,700 and will also be limited to graduate-level jobs, said May.
Tier one visas
The number of “Tier one” (highly-skilled) workers will be cut by 13,000 to 1,000, allowing “exceptional people” such as sports stars and scientists to work in the country.
May said that the changes were needed after the policy of trying to attract bright, skilled workers had failed.
“At least 30% of tier one migrants work in low-skilled occupations such as stacking shelves, driving taxis or working as security guards and some don’t have a job at all,” she said.
As a concession to businesses, the cap will not include the 22,500 workers transferred by international employers to the UK each year. However those in this scheme who want to stay more than a year need to be earning a minimum salary of £40,000. Businesses will still be able to bring non-EU workers into the UK on intra-company transfers for less than 12 months as long as they earn £24,000 or more.
The Government will review the number of students coming to the UK and it may stop international students arriving to study courses below degree level, as they are not the “brightest and the best” talent the country needed, said the home secretary in a speech earlier this month.
Overall non-EU immigration
The number of people allowed to come and work in the UK from outside the EU will be cut from around 196,000 to the “tens of thousands”, said the government.
“We will have to take action across all routes to entry – work visas, student visas, family visas – and break the link between temporary routes and permanent settlement,” May told MPs.