Businesses recruiting skilled workers from overseas on a UK visa could be charged a £1,000 levy for each one.
The move is part of plans to reduce the number of non-EU migrants coming to the UK by 20 per cent annually. Originally suggested by Prime Minister David Cameron, the proposal now has the backing of the independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC).
The MAC’s latest recommendations also include increasing the minimum salary threshold for overseas workers in the UK for five years from the current from £20,800 to £30,000. It had been suggested previously that the new recommended minimum salary could be as high as £35,000 which caused concerns about potential shortages of nurses and teachers.
In addition, the report called for limits on the intra-company transfer route of bringing skilled workers into Britain from other company branches abroad.
The committee believes that implementing its recommendations would see an annual 27,600 reduction in the number of people arriving in the UK from non-EU countries to work. It recommended phasing in the £30,000 salary requirement for nurses and teachers.
The report also said that charging £1,000 fees to bring workers into the UK under the Tier 2 skilled workers visa route would raise around £250 million to fund skills training in Britain.
Prof David Metcalf, the MAC chairman, said: “Skilled migrant workers make important contributions to boosting productivity and public finances, but this should be balanced against their potential impact on the welfare of existing UK residents.
“Raising the cost of employing skilled migrants via higher pay thresholds and the introduction of an immigration skills charge should lead to a greater investment in UK employees and reduce the use of migrant labour.”
Home Secretary Theresa May has yet to confirm which of the recommendations will be put in place, but she is widely predicted to back the £1,000 company levy as well as raising the minimum salary threshold.