04 November 2010

UK Visa cap will make little difference, warns Commons Home Affairs Select Committee

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The Coalition Government will next year set a permanent UK Visa cap on the number of foreign workers allowed to come to the country, as part of measures to reduce the level of immigration from 196,000 to “tens of thousands”.

UK Visa

Any UK Visa cap on the number of non-EU skilled workers will be ineffective and may cost the economy, a Commons Home Affairs Select Committee report has said.

But any limit to the number of non-EU workers allowed to come into the UK will affect less than 20 per cent of more than half a million immigrants, the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee said.

The UK Immigration Cap report has also repeated warnings that a limit on overseas skilled workers could in fact damage the economy by limiting the country's ability to attract top class workers, scientists and professionals.

The majority of migrants - EU citizens, foreign students or those arriving on family visas – will be unaffected by a cap on work permits, and the committee has said an approach on all of these visa types is essential if the Government is to achieve its reduction target.

The Government has not yet announced the level of the permanent annual UK Visa cap but whatever the limit, it will "make little difference to immigration overall", the report found.

The report detailed figures that showed a total of 538,000 migrants moved to the UK for at least a year in 2008, but less than 20 per cent of those were foreign workers from outside the EU.

For example,  a five per cent cut in foreign workers would only reduce overall immigration to the country by just one per cent, the report said. 

The report concludes: "Consequently, the Committee argues, to achieve anything approaching the reduction in overall immigration sought by the Government, other immigration routes – such as international students and those joining family members in the UK – will also have to be examined.

"And it is possible that in the long term the right to settle in this country may have to be removed from some immigrants."

The  Government has already said they plan to tackle all UK immigration routes, including student and family visas, and insisted that the UK Visa cap on workers is only one part of changes that will occur.

The UK Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with their  UK Visa applications to the British High Commission.

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