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UK tightens screws to check immigration

British-based employers will no longer be given annual quotas to import skilled workers from India and other non-European countries — from April 6, they will have to apply for a government permit every time they want to fill a post. Dipankar De Sarkar reports.

world Updated: Feb 22, 2011 18:18 IST
Dipankar De Sarkar

British-based employers will no longer be given annual quotas to import skilled workers from India and other non-European countries — from April 6, they will have to apply for a government permit every time they want to fill a post.

The extra layer of paperwork was added on Tuesday to a series of rules, regulations and criteria that will be used by British officials to decide which non-European workers are allowed to work and live in a country that is struggling to overcome record joblessness of 2.5 million and a low rate of economic growth.

Under the new system announced by the home ministry, employers will have to apply for a Certificate of Sponsorship (COS) from the UK Border Agency for a specific job they want to fill with someone from outside Europe.

Over the year, a total of 20,700 visas will be made available under Tier 2 of the Points Based System — meant for skilled workers who have a job offer.

The number of Tier 1 visas for “exceptionally talented people” has been drastically slashed to 1,000.

The Tier 2 visas will be distributed into 12 monthly allocations — 4,200 COS will be made available in April due to an expected high demand and 1,500 places per month after that.

However, the 20,700 limit will not apply to a worker coming here with a job offering a salary of £150,000 or more or to Intra Company Transfers (ICT) – seen as a sop to the growing number of Indian-owned companies in Britain.

The government also changed the ICT route: the job will have to be on the government’s graduate occupation list — those paid an annual £40,000 or more will be able to stay for three years with the possibility of extending for a further two; but those paid between £24,000 and £40,000 will be allowed to stay for only 12 months, at which point they must leave. They will not be able to re-apply for 12 months.

Immigration Minister Damian Green said he had “made it clear” to employers that job offers in the first instance should go to those who are in Britain and out of work.