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CBI: Immigration benefits the economy

9th February 2016

The new Director-General of the CBI is quoted in her first keynote speech as calling for less Government restrictions upon Tier 2 visas to improve the economy. Carolyn Fairbairn is to make a case for easier transfers of staff from overseas offices into their UK sites.

Each year, the Government limits the number of ‘restricted’ Certificates of Sponsorship awarded to newly-hired overseas migrants. This was set at 1,750 per month for 2014/15. The limit was exceeded for the first time in June. Those issued certificates needed to undertake either a shortage occupation job, a PhD role or one in which the gross salary was above £46,000. Engineers, teachers, lawyers and IT workers were all refused certificates in June on the basis that their salaries were too low.

The Government’s intention in respect of Tier 2 workers appears to tighten the criteria further.  The Migration Advisory Committee (“MAC”), a group of economists which advises the Government on migration issues, has undertaken a consultation exercise in the last six months. The points on which the MAC were asked to advise all related to ways in which less people could be brought to the UK for employment;  restriction of Tier 2 visas to only the highest-qualified staff, limiting the length of time people may work further, raising fees further and preventing the spouses of Tier 2 workers taking employment. The Chancellor’s recent Autumn Statement advised that visa application fees were to increase between now and 2020 to make UK Visas and Immigration entirely self-funding. The Government seems persuaded by the case for restriction of these visas; the opposite of what the CBI states will create economic growth. 

Both the CBI and the Institute of Directors have a recent record of supporting business immigration, in direct opposition to current Government policy. This appears likely to continue throughout this Parliament.   

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