Large corporations and employers have expressed major concerns to the UK government about the UK Visa cap, saying their ability to recruit key talent is severely compromised.
The Home Office imposed a temporary limit on non-EU migrant workers of 24,100 from June 2010 to April 2011, when the permanent cap will be put in place. The interim limits apply to all new applicants under Tier 1 (General), except for extension applications and in-country applications. Applications under Tier 2 (General), which include intra-company transfers, are limited by the number of Employer Sponsorship Licences that are issued.
This month the government ended the consultation period on the UK Visa cap and an announcement will be made shortly on the permanent levels that will take effect in April.
Current restrictions on hiring non-EU employees already are having a negative impact, employers say.
Firms including GlaxoSmithKline PLC, computer firm International Business Machines Corp, conglomerate General Electric Co, as well as banks JP Morgan Chase & Co and Deutsche Bank AG, have expressed concerns to the government.
The temporary cap has virtually eliminated the ability to hire skilled workers from outside the EU at some companies, as the allocation of tier 2 visas has been based on the number of employees hired in the previous year when companies were conservative in hiring due to the global financial crisis.
In some instances, companies have received an allocation of zero.
General Electric, which hires on average three people every day in the UK, is restricted to a cap in the single digits – particularly challenging when trying to hire highly experienced technology and engineering personnel.
"If industry cannot fill some of these specialist roles with outside help, it will hinder the UK's revival efforts," GE's UK Chief Executive Mark Elborne.
The cap has drawn opposition from leading politicians, including Vince Cable, the UK business secretary, who has called the policy damaging to British industry.