The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has added its voice to those complaining about the limit on the number of skilled workers granted UK visas.
The Tier 2 work permit limit for skilled staff from outside the EU has now been reached for a second consecutive month, and the business group is concerned that firms cannot fill important roles. As a result, it believes performance and productivity could be compromised.
CBI director-general John Cridland said the CBI had heard from around 20 big businesses which had been unable to recruit people from non-EU countries to fill important positions because the candidates had been unsuccessful with their UK visa applications. Those who are rejected one month are able to reapply the next but there is no guarantee that the second application will succeed.
He said: “I understand the need of Government to tackle public concerns about migration but I don’t think they are concerned about skilled migrants or students.”
A total of 20,700 people are permitted into the UK each year using the Tier 2 route and the monthly cap was reached in both June and July before the end of the month. The CBI said that while the annual figure was sufficient during the recession, now that the economy is recovering, it is not. It added that the greater demand for skilled overseas staff is a sign of economic growth.
In the 12 months to March, 93,067 people applied to enter the UK on Tier 2 visas, a 13 per cent increase on the previous year. As well as skilled workers, the figure includes sports people, religious ministers and inter-company transfers. The majority of applications – four-fifths – came from US, India, Australia, China and Japan.
Mr Cridland said the Government needs to “back out of the cul-de-sac they are in” with regard to its pledge to reduce net migration to the tens of thousands.