UK work permit allowance 'left unused'

06 May 2011 | Posted by Carl Thomas

Around three-quarters of the initial allowance for UK work permits for skilled employees has been left unused.

Just 1,028 of the certificates of sponsorship for skilled overseas workers were granted in April, according to UK Border Agency (UKBA) figures cited by the Financial Times.

The agency originally set aside 4,200 of these certificates for companies to obtain Tier 2 work permits in anticipation of a huge number of applications.

April's remaining allocation will now be carried over into May and added to the 1,500 UK visas already on offer for the month.

The apparently low level of demand appears somewhat contradictory to the uproar from British enterprises when the original UK immigration cap was announced.

The coalition government introduced the annual cap of 20,700 Tier 2 work permits for skilled workers on April 6th.

With worries circulating regarding the availability of specialist skilled labour in the UK, some concessions were made to appease businesses, including the exclusion of intra-company transfers
from the cap.

However, a number of UK immigration experts, including Julia Onslow-Cole, head of immigration at PwC Legal, suggested the poor uptake is due to uncertainty.

Ms Onslow-Cole told the paper: "I don't think it means there is a lack of demand. A lot of employers held back because they were concerned [about the system] and so the jury is still out."

She added that there could well be a "big rush" in May as companies become more comfortable with the new system and implement their own strategic plans.