New criteria for people seeking Tier 2 visas to work in the UK have come into effect.
The majority of people sponsored on a Tier 2 visa must now earn at least £25,000 annually. The figure will increase to £30,000 in April 2017. Prior to the changes the minimum salary requirement was £20,800.
Some protected professions will be exempt from the salary requirements until July 2019: nurses, radiographers, paramedics and secondary school teachers in maths, sciences, and Mandarin.
In addition, overseas professionals coming to work in the UK under the short term the intra company transfer route must now earn at least £30,000 a year to be approved.
Labour MP Virendra Sharma said that British workers were often unable to command the salaries that Tier 2 staff are now expected to earn. He said the changes could be detrimental to the UK’s relationship with India.
“This is a very reactionary and unthoughtful move by the Government and won’t help build the relationship between India and Britain,” he said.
“Indirectly the Government is saying we don’t want you here.”
Lord Karan Bilimoria, who founded Cobra Beer, said that the changes would affect the Indian IT industry – one of the country’s key export services. He said that Indian businesses have “contributed hugely to improving IT infrastructure across the public sector and brought in massive added value to the British economy”.
Meanwhile, English language requirements have also changed. After two and a half years in Britain, partners and families of immigrants who want to extend their residency must prove they have a certain level of English to be approved.
Harsev Bains from the Indian Workers Association in the UK said: “This will mostly affect women from India and Pakistan between the ages of 20 and 35. It seems targeted at a particular community.”