Tighter controls on skilled migrants will only cut numbers by 3,000
Tighter rules designed to limit the number of skilled migrants entering Britain will only reduce numbers by 3,000 a year, the Home Office admitted yesterday.
By Tom Whitehead, Home Affairs Editor
Published: 7:00AM GMT 19 Mar 2010
The changes include making it harder for international companies to bring in foreign workers to its UK offices and reducing the time highly skilled migrants can stay before having to reapply.
Around 50,000 migrants are currently allowed to work into Britain every year under the various visa routes but the changes will only cut that by some six per cent.
Under changes announced yesterday, foreign employees of international companies would need to have worked for the firm for at least a year before they can come to the UK under a intra-company transfer.
Currently the scheme only requires a six month tie to a company.
International firms are allowed to move employees between countries on a temporary basis which effectively bypasses normal work permit controls.
Other changes will see any migrant applying to work in the UK as a highly skilled migrant, such as doctors or engineers, will now be initially granted a two year visa rather than a three year one.
The Government also sidestepped calls for a review of the type and range of colleges that offer students a degree course, which in turn allow them to stay on after graduation to look for work.
In December, the Government's chief immigration adviser warned tens of thousands of foreign students are being allowed to stay in Britain and find jobs after graduating from colleges that are not “proper” universities.
David Metcalf, chairman of the Migration Advisory Committee, called for a review of “lower tier” colleges because of fears that too many foreign students were able to extend their stay in the UK for up to two years after getting their degrees.
Prof Metcalf said he was “stunned” to discover that on top of the 154 major universities there were some 599 colleges and bodies that provided undergraduate courses, including degrees in circus skills, Chinese medicine, and homeopathic education.
In response, the Home Office yesterday said the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is already looking at the experience of foreign postgraduate students and the jobs they take and any other review should await the outcome of that.
However, that review will not be examining the nature or extent of degree courses on offer.
Damian Green, shadow Immigration Minister, said: After thirteen years of an open-door immigration policy this Government is not going to convince anyone with talks of a crackdown.”
Phil Woolas, the immigration minister, said: “We've always said that we would run our immigration system for the benefit of the UK and that is what we are doing.
“The changes that we are making today will build on an already robust system which in now the envy of the world. A strength of the points based system is the flexibility to predict and respond to events.
“By utilising the flexibility of the points based system we are now ensuring that only those that we need to come to the UK to work can do so.
“I will continue to ensure that immigration does not act as a disincentive for employers to employ and improve the skills of the British workforce.
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