26 October 2010

David Cameron hints that UK Visa cap could be relaxed

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The Prime Minister has promised business leaders that they would not be stopped from bringing skilled workers to Britain, hinting at a relaxation on UK immigration rules.

UK Visa

The Prime Minister has hinted that the UK Visa cap could be relaxed.

"As we control our borders and bring immigration to a manageable level, we will not impede you from attracting the best talent from around the world,'' David Cameron told the CBI conference in central London.

The Government introduced an interim UK Visa cap for non-EU skilled workers in July ahead of a permanent cap that will be introduced in April next year. Many companies have reported that the UK Visa cap has already hurt British businesses and scientific research capabilities.

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) are limited by the number of Employer Sponsorship Licences that are issued. 

Oil executives, law firms and cancer charities are among those to have warned that they are being prevented from employing enough skilled workers from outside the EU, with many complaining that quotas are arbitrary and limiting the ability to do business.

City firms have been lobbying particularly hard for more flexibility when the permanent system comes into force next spring.

Business Secretary Vince Cable also publicly called for the Government to make the visa cap more "flexible".

The Prime Minister's spokesman stressed that Mr Cameron's pledge yesterday did not signal a ''rethink'', because final decisions on the level and shape of the limits had yet to be taken.

"It is not a rethink, because the position at the present time is that we have got a temporary cap which runs until next spring, and we are consulting on a cap for future years,'' the spokesman added.

"We will be looking obviously at the level of that cap and at the way in which it operates and making sure that works in a way that allows business to bring the people that they need into the UK."

The final details of the level of the UK Visa cap will not be revealed until Christmas but it is expected there will be a fixed annual limit below 100,000 for non-EU migrants. However, Mr Cameron has indicated that the number of business transfers of Tier 1, or highly-skilled, migrants could rise.

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

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