The strategy speech by UK’s immigration minister Damian Green last week has caused a tremble among many Indians, both in India and the United Kingdom (UK).
While Green did not make any big-splash policy declaration, there were suggestions that further changes were in the offing in the points-based immigration system.
Two of the important changes that have been announced by Green are a entrance salary range of between £31,000 and £49,000 annually for those Tier 2 immigrants who seek permanent leave to remain in the UK; when they become eligible and an income range of between £18,600 and £25,700 for those UK citizens who want to sponsor their foreign spouses for settling in the country.
The partner, immigration group, of London-based law firm Kamal Rahman, Mishcon de Reya Solicitors, doesn’t see too much cause for concern among Indians on either of the two clauses.
She said “£25,700 to bring in a foreign spouse and between £31,000 and £49,000 to obtain uncertain leave to remain are improbable to hit Indian immigrants. Indians are increasingly highly educated and therefore involved in higher-value jobs.”
The changes would depend on the recommendations of UK’s Migration Advisory Committee (MAC).
Green said in his speech said that recently the Migration Advisory Committee made public a fascinating study about how they calculate the costs and benefits of immigration.
Economists across government will be considering the MAC’s assessment in detail over the coming weeks.
One of MAC’s findings was that the cap on Tier 2 skilled-immigrant visa limit was not reached.
In fact, it is estimated that only half the available numbers will be used up. Given this trend, what is worrying for many Indians is that the cap may be reduced.
Clarifying the issue, a spokesperson of the UK High Commission in Delhi said that the UK had been operating a numerical limit on Tier 2 applications in 2011-12.
During this time, the allocation of Tier 2 certificates of sponsorship has not been fully met each month.
The government has asked the MAC to review the numerical limit for 2012-13 and other aspects of migration by skilled workers.
Though the new rules may not have a big impact on British businesses, they highlight the tight labour market conditions in UK for immigrants from outside the European Union (EU).
According to Chandigarh-based immigration lawyer Ranjit Malhotra, a lot of highly skilled jobs are taken care of by the free movement of talent within the EU.
He said that largely, it is the changed market conditions in the UK and EU that are reflected in the immigration rules which are unlikely to have an adverse impact on UK businesses.