MPs from the influential Home Affairs Select Commission have told the Government its cap on skilled workers using the Tier 2 visa route to work in the UK is “counter-productive”.
Since 2011, only 20,700 Tier 2 visas have been granted annually. For most of 2015, the monthly quota has been oversubscribed and it’s believed the Government will seek to further tighten the criteria for non-EU skilled workers entering the UK early in the New Year.
However, the Home Affairs Select Committee said that the cap could potentially damage the UK economy and was not bringing down net migration.
Committee chairman, Keith Vaz, said: “The Government’s immigration cap does not fit, it may even be counter-productive.
“It is having no effect on bringing down net migration. The latest net migration figures show a third of a million people entered the UK last year, roughly the size of Cardiff, making the Tier 2 cap of 20,700 minimal in comparison.
“Yet it blocks the recruitment of vitally needed skills required by individual employers and the economy as a whole.”
He added that Britain needed to be “open for business” and having skilled workers was essential to this policy.
However, the cap on Tier 2 visas is instead “stimulating recruitment” from within the EU, the Committee said.
It found that so far this year, more than 3,000 Tier 2 applications have been turned down because the monthly limited had already been reached. These included nurses, who have since been included on the Shortage Occupation List, which means they can come to the UK with fewer visa restrictions.
Mr Vaz said that the system could otherwise have “caused a crisis” for the NHS over the busy winter period.
He added: “A system which encourages panicked adjustments to be functional is not fit for purpose.”