Britain has announced new plans to reduce the dependence of British companies on Indian and non-EU professionals, including changes to the Inter-Company Transfer (ICT) visa used mostly by Indian IT companies.
Announcing the changes in a parliamentary statement on Thursday, immigration minister James Brokenshire said: “For too long we have had a shortage of workers in certain roles, and in the past, it has been too easy for employers to recruit overseas.”
The changes include a higher salary threshold for a British company employing a non-EU professional, an “Immigration Skills Charge” of £1,000 per non-EU professional hired per year, and an “Immigration Health Surcharge” for those under the ICT category.
Brokenshire said: “We will increase the Tier 2 minimum salary threshold to £30,000 for experienced workers. This change will be phased in, with the minimum threshold increased to £25,000 in autumn 2016 and to £30,000 in April 2017.”
Those migrating under the ICT category will be required to qualify under a single visa category with a minimum salary threshold of £41,500, Brokenshire said.
“To provide some further flexibility within the streamlined intra-company transfer category, we shall lower the minimum salary threshold for intra-company transferees working in the UK for between five and nine years from £155,300 to £120,000,” he said.
Britain will also remove the one year experience requirement for all applications where the worker is paid over £73,900. These changes will take effect from April 2017, Brokenshire added.
Indian professionals were given the largest number of visas under Tier 2 in the year ending September 2015. Indian IT workers accounted for 90% of visas issued under the ICT route.
Indian IT majors have several offices in Britain, mostly staffed by Indian employees.
The changes are based on recommendations made by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) of the Home Office, which had, in a report in January, specifically mentioned India and its strengths in the IT sector to suggest new curbs.
“(Immigration) is not serving to increase the incentive to employers to train and upskill the UK workforce. Ready access to a pool of skilled IT professionals in India is an example of this,” it said in the report.
“We did not see any substantive evidence of long-standing reciprocal arrangements whereby UK staff are given the opportunity to gain skills, training and experience from working in India.”
The MAC noted that “some of the heaviest users of the intra-company transfer route are Indian companies, and the top ten employers using the intra-company transfer route are all largely employing IT workers from India”.
It said: “The evidence indicates that multinational companies with a presence in India have developed a competitive advantage in delivering IT projects in the UK.”