Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday announced a blueprint for restricting the recruitment of professionals from India and other non-EU countries, including new curbs on the intra-company transfer (ICT) visa used mostly by Indian IT companies to transfer and post employees in Britain. This follows the introduction of a new immigration bill included in the Queen’s Speech to the new House of Commons.
The new measures are significant in the context of the latest figures which demonstrate that the annual limit of 20,700 Tier 2 work visas, announced in April 2011, was almost reached, for the first time, during 2014-15 as Britain’s economy showed signs of recovering.
Cameron said, “As part of our one-nation approach, pushed forward by my Immigration Taskforce, we have asked the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to advise on what more can be done to reduce levels of work migration from outside the EU.”
The ICT route was not part of the annual 20,700 Tier 2 limit but the MAC has been tasked to advise on “tightening up on the ICT route, including applying the immigration health surcharge to ICTs”. The MAC’s recommendations are usually accepted by the government.
The MAC has also been assigned the task of giving advice by the end of the year on these topics: restricting work visas to genuine skills shortages and highly specialist experts; putting a time limit on the period of time a sector can claim to have a skills shortage; a new skills levy on Tier 2 visas to increase funding to UK apprenticeships; and raising salary thresholds to stop businesses using foreign workers to undercut wages.
The proposals also include imposing restrictions on the automatic right of Tier 2 dependants to work, which will affect spouses of Indian professionals taking up work in Britain.