The British Home Office has tightened the immigration noose around the Indian skilled worker. Proposals announced on Tuesday say foreign workers – read Indian and other non-EU country nationals – “hoping to fill skilled vacancies in Britain’s labour market will have to meet strict new criteria,” the government admitted.
The announcement comes within a week of Indian doctors winning a favourable verdict from the House of Lords to be treated equally with UK and European doctors for employment.
The new schemes, known as Tier 2 and Tier 5, sweep aside around 30 different routes to the UK, including the old work permit system. The Home Office also confirmed that from this year, low skilled workers from outside the EU would be barred. Britain-based companies will have to prove they cannot fill skilled posts with a resident worker and must show the vacancy has been advertised in the UK. Would-be migrants will need a job offer before they even apply for a visa, unless the job is on the shortage occupation list.
To qualify, skilled foreign nationals will have to earn a certain number of points before being allowed to work in Britain. These points are awarded only if a person can prove they will be doing skilled work, can speak good English, are earning more than £24,000, or have a decent qualification. Employers will need a licence from the UK Border Agency to offer jobs to skilled workers.
The government also revealed its proposals for Tier 5 of the Points Based System (PBS) that covers those travelling temporarily to the UK for non-economic reasons, such as sportspersons and charity workers.
To ensure that entertainers continue to contribute to British cultural life, those coming to the UK for permit-free gigs or festivals – such as the Edinburgh Fringe – will be assessed outside of the PBS under visitor visa rules. The government is also due to publish details of new visitor visa category soon that, sources said, will be more severe and expensive.