Measures to be brought in this autumn will reduce recruitment of skilled workers on tier two visas from outside Europe
Overseas nurses are likely to be one of the first groups affected by David Cameron’s drive to reduce skilled migration to Britain from outside Europe, immigration experts have warned.
Cameron announced a blueprint being drawn up to cut demand for migrant labour during prime minister’s questions on Wednesday.
He said the first measures, including raising the thresholds for recruiting skilled workers from outside Europe, will be brought in this autumn. Those in lower wage groups are likely to be most affected, with overseas nurse recruitment forming one of the largest categories.
The prime minister told MPs that the renewed drive to reduce British business demand for skilled migrant labour was a crucial part of the government’s plan to cut net migration.
The latest figures showed net migration to Britain reached 318,000 in 2014 – an increase of 109,000 from the previous year. Much to the dismay of ministers, the figures also showed net migration from outside Europe, up 42,000, is rising almost as markedly as net migration from within Europe – up 67,000.
Cameron disclosed that Theresa May, the home secretary, has asked the migration advisory committee to review the options for reducing migration of skilled people to Britain from outside Europe, including a detailed examination of how tier two of the points-based immigration system is working.
“In the past, it has been too easy for businesses to recruit from overseas, undermining those who want to work hard and do the right thing,” Cameron said. “As part of our one-nation approach, pushed forward by my immigration taskforce, we have asked the migration advisory committee to advise on what more can be done to reduce levels of work migration from outside the EU.”
Migration figures published in May showed that migration for work from outside Europe rose by 24,000 to 68,000 in 2014, with nearly all coming on skilled work visas.
A formal cap of 20,700 tier two visas being issued each year has been in place since April 2011 for those in shortage occupations, but many more – especially Indian IT tech specialists and overseas finance staff – have entered through the intra-company transfer route, which is running at more than 30,000 a year.
Downing Street said the options the migration advisory committee had been asked to examine included:
Oxford University’s Migration Observatory warned last month that increasing demand from British businesses for skilled migrants could mean the annual cap on tier two visas could be reached for the first time. This will mean some employers will be prevented from recruiting overseas.
“Employers in industries that tend to pay lower wages will be affected sooner. Examples include nurses, currently one of the largest categories of tier two applicants coming from overseas,” the Migration Observatory said.
“In the year ending September 2014, the median salary of tier two [general] applicants who were nurses was £25,000, compared to £33,000 across all occupations. By contrast, median incomes were relatively high for programmers and software developers [£35,000] and medical practitioners [£51,000], who would therefore get priority in the allocation process.”
June 23, 2015UK visa & immigration consultation