19 August 2009

Think-tank says UK skilled visa, work permit holders should be offered tax breaks

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An influential think-tank has suggested the British government should offer tax breaks and other incentives to highly-skilled migrants to the UK.

UK skilled migrants

Skilled migrants in the country on a UK skilled visa or UK work permit should be given incentives, says a think-tank.

Not all of these "highly-mobile" immigrants on a UK skilled visa or UK work permit are interested in settling down in Britain, prefering to work here for short periods and move on elsewhere.

The Institute of Public Policy Research said in a new report that Britain could lose out on sought-after skills offered by mobile immigrants if they re-migrate to other countries and that more efforts should be made to encourage them to stay in Britain.

The report listed measures to encourage migrants to stay longer in the UK: extending schemes to encourage and help foreign students who have been studying in the UK to find jobs here after they graduate; awarding extra points under the new points-based system to highly skilled migrants who are committed to staying in the UK longer term; simplifying processes for visa and UK work permit extensions, allowing skilled migrants to bring in their families more easily; and creating tax incentives.

The IPPR report, titled 'Shall we stay or shall we go: Re-migration trends among Britain's immigrants', dismisses fears over population growth due to UK immigration.

Tim Finch, IPPR's head of migration, said many more immigrants were coming to Britain for short periods of time before leaving.

"The migration debate in the UK is fixated with the idea that immigrants come to settle and not enough attention has been paid to the fact that more and more immigrants are spending only short periods in the UK.

"Our research shows that many groups of migrants are now increasingly mobile. They are coming to UK to study and work for short periods and then they are moving on."

As competition for highly skilled migrants increases in future years, schemes to retain migrants may become as important as attracting them in the first place, Finch said.

Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said: "This report further demonstrates migrants come to the UK for a short period of time, work, contribute to the economy and then return home. Our new flexible points-based system gives us greater control on those coming to work or study from outside Europe, ensuring that only those that Britain need can come."

The report's authors say that with Britain in recession, the number of migrants arriving each year will either fall or "at least stabilise". They predict that over the next two years the number of migrants leaving Britain is likely to be around or above 200,000 and may remain above 150,000 for at least the next five years.


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