The Immigration Cap: Now Reached for the First Time And Far Reaching Long Term Changes Proposed By the Government

3 mins

Posted on 25 Jun 2015

For the first time since its introduction 4 years ago the cap on the number of Tier 2 General Restricted Certificates of Sponsorship has been reached. In June 2015 businesses applying for the limited number of certificates available each month have been unsuccessful because the application system has been oversubscribed. 

The Home Office is yet to release full information regarding exactly which applications have and have not made the cut in June. We anticipate that this problem will continue in the months to come due to unsuccessful June applicants reapplying in July and August. Whether this represents a new norm in business immigration is yet to be seen.

Whilst the Home Office is being lobbied to increase the current cap (of 20,700 certificates a year) and create new exceptions for certain jobs, we do not consider this likely to happen. The context is the current political background. Only last week David Cameron announced his renewed desire to further limit the number of skilled Tier 2 migrants entering the UK from outside the EEA. He has instructed the Migration Advisory Committee (the MAC) to produce proposals to achieve this policy aim. The Immigration Minister James Brokenshire, has also been quoted as stating: “In the past it has been too easy for some businesses to bring in workers from overseas rather than to take the long-term decision to train our workforce here at home. We need to do more to change that, which means reducing the demand for migrant labour. That is why we have commissioned the migration advisory committee to provide advice on significantly reducing economic migration from outside the EU.”

The MAC has been encouraged by the government to consider the following ideas (amongst others): to explore a significant reduction in the types of roles appropriate for skilled workers; to limit Tier 2 to genuine shortage occupations and experts; to consider including Intra Company Transferees within the Immigration Health Surcharge and potentially the overall cap on migrant numbers; to create a time limit for shortage occupation roles; to introduce a new levy on businesses bringing in migrants to fund apprenticeship schemes. 

Some of those proposals will not be welcomed by the business community, in particular those businesses which rely on overseas workers or which have an international dimension requiring skills and knowledge that cannot be obtained in the UK. We encourage our clients and other companies to respond to the MAC as and when it consults with stakeholders. We hope that the drive to reduce net migration is not to be achieved at any cost and that the views of the business community will be given weight when it comes to implementing any changes.

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