Scotland criticises UK visa cap

08 Dec 2010 | Posted by Carl Thomas

UK visa caps will damage the Scottish economic recovery unless the country is allowed more control over its immigration levels.

This is the view laid out in a joint letter from business and industry leaders in Scotland to the UK immigration minister Damian Green.

The letter, which has been signed by signed by the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, the Institute of Directors in Scotland, the Federation of Small Businesses and Universities Scotland and NHS Scotland among others, follows last month's announcement from home secretary Theresa May.

Ms May confirmed in November that the rules governing UK work permits will become much tighter as of next year and the limit for Tier 1 and Tier 2 UK work permits will be lowered to 21,700.

Scottish external affairs minister Fiona Hyslop explained in the letter that the changes, which include UK visa caps, will have a negative impact on the Scottish economy when they come into force in April 2011.

Ms Hysplop said: "They tell us the temporary cap is already making it difficult to recruit and retain the world-class talent so essential to our economy's success.

"The situation here in Scotland is very different to other parts of the UK and that is why we need a flexible approach to immigration."

While business groups have previously praised the fact that intra-company transfers for employees on salaries above £40,000 will be excluded from the UK visa cap, the letter states that the creative industries, financial and public services, energy, life sciences and tourism will all still be negatively affected by the restrictions.