UK work permit reforms published

16 Feb 2011 | Posted by Carl Thomas

UK work permit reforms have been explained in detail today (February 16th) by the Home Office.

The annual limit on non-EU immigration through the UK work permit route will come into effect on April 6th this year. Once this happens, 20,700 Tier 2 work permits will be available through the points-based system on an annual basis.

An additional 1,000 UK visas will be offered through an "exceptional talent route" for Tier 1 work permits.

However, few further details had been published. But today the government confirmed that employers looking to acquire a UK work permit for an employee from outside the European Economic Area will have to apply for a certificate of sponsorship from the UK Border Agency.

Other changes include the decision not to subject employers filling a vacancy that attracts a salary of £150,000 to the limit on the number of certificates of sponsorship.

Regarding the Intra Company Transfer route, which will not count towards the annual work permit limits, the Home Office clarified that immigrants will have to be in an occupation on the graduate occupation list. Furthermore, only those paid £40,000 or more will be able to stay for more than a year, with leave to stay for three years and a possible extension to five.

Meanwhile, those paid between £24,000 and £40,000 will only be allowed to stay in the country for 12 months, after which point the must leave and cannot re-apply for another year.

Commenting on the new information, immigration minister Damian Green said: "We have worked closely with businesses while designing this system, and made it clear employers should look first to people who are out of work and who are already in this country.

"Those that do come here to work must know that we intend to make the route to settlement tougher. It can not be right that people coming to fill temporary skills gaps have open access to permanent settlement."