Scientific researchers at "significant advantage"
16th February 2011: Foreigners earning more than £150,000 annually can come to the UK to work. And, they will not be counted as part of the immigration quota.
The new ‘business-friendly’ controls, in fact, make it clear that high-earning migrants coming to Britain for jobs fetching annual salaries of £150,000, including bankers and lawyers, are to be exempt from the annual immigration cap.
To top it all, scientific researchers also stand at "significant advantage". Migrants working in British branches of multinational companies, including Indian IT firms, have also been excluded from the annual limit.
This apparently follows pressure from business secretary Vince Cable. The development is significant as more than 30,000 came under this route in 2010.
As per immigration minister Damian Green, visa applicants would be ranked using a points system designed to favour jobs on the shortage occupation list, scientific researchers and those with a higher salary, if the monthly allocation was oversubscribed.
The permanent immigration cap, promised by the Conservatives just before the general election comes into force in April.
Giving details, the immigration minister said 20,700 visas will be available to skilled workers. Another 1,000 visas will be available under a new "exceptional talent" route to be introduced from 6 April.
Green indicated the decision to exempt those earning more than £150,000 a year from the annual limit was intended to make it as business-friendly as possible. It was also to chase away claims that Britain was not open for business.
Green said they have worked closely with businesses, while designing the system, and made it clear employers should look first to people who are out of work and who are already in this country.
Describing it as a fair system that addresses the needs of employers, he said: "Britain needs to attract the brightest and best to fill the jobs gaps but this should never be at the expense of workers already here."
According to the plans, employers will be required to apply for a UK Border Agency certificate of sponsorship for each specific job they want to fill from abroad. This is in contrast to the annual allocation currently given to businesses.
The applicants will apply for a graduate-level job and speak an intermediate level of English, besides meeting specific salary and employment requirements.
The annual limit of 20,700 sponsorship certificates will be segregated into 12 monthly allocations. To begin with 4,200 visas will be available in April to meet the likely demand. It will be followed by a monthly limit of 1,500.
Dr Adam Marshall of the British Chambers of Commerce said the new rules show that, after a period of great uncertainty, the government is listening harder to business concerns.
The changes to the ‘tier two’ arrangements mean that companies will have a better chance of getting much-needed international talent, and growing their business. This in turn will benefit UK plc.
However, they would continue to monitor whether the latest immigration rules hamper businesses seeking to recruit the skilled personnel they need. If problems do surface, the government must remain flexible, and make changes once again.