The annual limit on non-EEA skilled workers allowed into the UK to work will remain at 20,700 for the next two years, Immigration Minister Damian Green has said.
The minister said that the move was meant to demonstrate “that the brightest and best migrants are welcome in the UK.”
Home Office said that the government had listened to businesses and decided to freeze the limit, fixing it for two years until April 2014. This will give companies greater certainty and consistency to make plans for the future, Home Office said.
The government has also increased the skill level required by migrants who wish to work in the UK. This means that a number of middle-management jobs such as IT technicians and security managers will no longer be open to migrant workers. Highly-skilled occupations such as architect, teacher or chemical engineer will still be available.
“The government has been clear that the UK is open for business and our limit has been designed with the industry’s needs in mind,” Mr. Green said. “The limit, which is undersubscribed, has not stopped a single skilled worker from coming to the UK. We believe there is no incompatibility between economic growth and controlling migration - our reformed, more selective immigration system can achieve both.”
Additionally, the rules for businesses around advertising highly paid and PhD jobs will be relaxed to cut bureaucracy. This means companies will no longer have to advertise vacancies via JobCentrePlus, where they are less likely to get applicants for these types of jobs, but will still have to advertise more widely.
Furthermore, companies will now be able to advertise PhD level occupations overseas, as well as in the UK, so that the best candidate can be selected.
Home Office said that the reforms will continue to restrict the ability of lesser skilled workers to enter the UK. They are aimed at improving the selectivity of the UK immigration system – ensuring that only the brightest and the best are able to come to the UK and work.
Prospective workers will still need to have a graduate level job, speak an intermediate level of English and meet specific salary and employment requirements before they are able to work in the UK.
Those earning a salary of £150,000 will continue to be exempt from the limit.