Over the past six years, the numbers of skilled non-EU
workers coming to the UK have been in steady decline.
In 2009, 55,000 long-term migrants came from outside
the EU for work, down from 114,000 in 2004. The drop
in numbers follows increasing political concern about
the level of non-EU labour migration to the U
Major Coalition Government reforms since May 2010
have aimed to further reduce numbers of non-EU skilled
workers by 2015, by both limiting numbers of visas
available and raising the requirements for Tiers 1 and 2.
In June 2010, the Government introduced a temporary
limit on the number of Tier 1 and Tier 2 visas available.
A permanent cap on Tier 1 and 2 visas came into force
in April 2011, limiting skilled migrant visas to 21,700 for
Since April 2011, 1000 visas per year are now available
under Tier 1 for highly skilled migrant job-seekers from
outside the EU showing ‘exceptional talent’ within the
sciences, arts or humanities. Numbers of investors and
entrepreneurs remain unlimited. The Tier 1 (General)
route has closed and Tier 1 (Post Study Work) for
foreign graduates will also close in April 2012.
The number of visas available for Tier 2 (General) has
also been limited, to 20,700 per year. This has been
accompanied by further changes to Tier 2 skills and
English language requirements since April 2011. In
addition, although Intra-Company Transfers are not
included in the immigration cap, those wishing to stay in
the UK for longer than 12 months are now subject to a
minimum earnings threshold.
A Government consultation released in June 2011
proposes significant changes to settlement for most
migrant workers and their dependents in the UK. These
measures would require most skilled migrant workers
and their dependents to leave the UK after a maximum
of five years, with no right to apply for settlement here.
In June 2011, the British Chambers of Commerce argued
that this could be “incredibly disruptive to companies of
all sizes, and to the UK’s economic recovery… The
criteria for which migrants do get settlement rights must
reflect business needs and the economy, as well as