June 29, 2010

Just six weeks after the UK elected a new coalition government on 6 May 2010, significant changes to the UK’s immigration system, which will affect corporate employers, have been announced.

Immigration was a recurring topic during the hotly fought election, and the new government has lived up to its promise to act quickly to cut levels of non European Union migrants entering the UK. The Home Secretary, Theresa May, announced a cap on the number of  non European Union workers permitted to enter the UK.  This will affect both Tier 1 and Tier 2 of the Points Based System.

When Will This Happen? 

Permanent limits will be announced after September 2010, following a 12 week government consultation, and will take effect from 1 April 2011.  However, the government has announced an interim limit, which takes effect on 19 July 2010.  Levels of non-European Union migrants in 2010 will be kept below 2009 levels, with the interim limit being introduced specifically in order to prevent what the Home Secretary calls a “closing down sale”” – i.e. employers rushing to obtain work approval for non European employees before the quota is fully introduced in 2011.

Interim Measures (from 19 July 2010) 

The interim measures include:

  • Capping the number of Tier 1 migrants at current levels and raising the number of points needed by non-EU workers who come to do highly skilled jobs from 95 to 100 points; and
  • Limiting the number of certificates of sponsorship that licensed employers can issue to those who wish to come to fill skilled job vacancies – i.e. under Tier 2 (General). This will reduce the number of people entering through Tier 2 by 1,300.

Note that, for Tier 2, the interim measures affect Tier 2 (General) only and not Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer).  Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer) may, however, be affected by long term changes, to be introduced in April 2011.  In addition, extensions of leave to remain in the UK (i.e. renewals of work permission) are currently unaffected.

How Will This Affect UK Employers?

  • The points threshold for Tier 1 has been raised, so employers will find it harder to use Tier 1 as a means to bring employees to the UK.
  • Depending how  the interim limits are delivered, employers may find difficulties in securing permission to hire new migrant workers via the Tier 2 General provisions
  • Further changes, to be announced after September 2010, may well have a greater effect on the ability of UK employers to bring non European Union workers to the UK.

Have Your Say

The government has launched a consultation into how the cap should work and what the numbers should be.  Employers are encouraged to respond to the consultation, by the deadline of 13 September 2010.  The full report can be accessed here, or consultation questions can be answered online here.

Pro-Link GLOBAL will be pleased to work with our clients and partners on responses; please contact Sophy King on sophy.king@pro-linkglobal.comfor further information.

The government has also asked the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), the Home Office appointed independent advisory body, to launch an additional consultation; details of this are yet to be announced.


  • Pro-Link GLOBAL strongly recommends that UK employers respond to the  government consultation and is happy to assist with responses, as mentioned above.
  • The interim limits have only just been announced, and at this stage it is unclear exactly how these will be delivered.  As we learn more, we will keep you informed.
  • Pro-Link GLOBAL will also be monitoring announcements from the Migration Advisory Committee and will keep our clients up to date.

Caveat Lector | Warning to Reader 

This is provided as informational only and does not substitute for actual legal advice based on the specific circumstances of a matter. Readers are reminded that Immigration laws are fluid and can change a moment’s notice without any warning. Please reach out to your local Pro-Link GLOBAL specialist should you require any additional clarification.

Pro-Link GLOBAL worked with our PLG | KGNM Correspondent Office in the UK to provide this Global BRIEF alert to you.