Clues on when we’ll know more about the planned immigration cap

Posted on October 22, 2010 by

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I spotted in the news this morning that the interim cap has just come into force – the UK Border Agency has announced it will issue no more visas this month to highly skilled migrants coming through tier one of the points-based immigration system. The Lords were discussing Immigration in the UK yesterday afternoon and there was lots of discussion of the impacts of the planned permanent cap for science (check out my previous post for the background)

Baroness Valentine had called the debate and Lord Wallace of Saltire was the Minister answering for the government.

There were lots of mentions of the impact for medical research from peers including Lord Turnberg, Lady Manningham-Buller, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath.

Following a period of consultation, we are currently waiting for the consultations to report and the government to announce how they plan to cap non-EU immigration to the UK. Lord Wallace gave a few clues to the timing in his response, saying that the Government are now responding to the consultation and they expect that response to be made public within the next few weeks. He also gave a few insights into current government thinking around tier 1 and tier 2. And he specifically picked out scientific research, stating that the government recognises the problems of scientific research and of universities, which need to be able to attract the best people.

…I recognise that this debate is largely focused on tiers 1 and 2 and on the application of the cap that is to be applied to those tiers. The interim cap was imposed to avoid a surge of applicants before the new system is introduced in April 2011. The reduction in the cap was of a matter of 1,300 places. There will be an annual cap, which is intended to reduce the steady rise in the British population. A very large number of anxieties and concerns have been expressed to the Government over its application, and I have read a great many submissions on what would happen and what could happen, but I have to say that there were not many on what has happened. The Government’s consultation received 3,500 responses, so we are involved in a continuing dialogue with all those concerned, including London First. We want the best for Britain’s society and economy, and we all recognise that we have to respond to changing international conditions and trends in migration as they move up and down. The Government are now responding to the consultation and we expect that response to be made public within the next few weeks.

The balance between tier 1 and tier 2 is one issue that we will discuss. The figures suggest that around 10 per cent of those who have come in under tier 1 are not currently employed and that a further 20 per cent are employed in lower-skilled occupations than those that they claimed to be pursuing when they came into the country, so there is a case for expanding tier 2 and shrinking tier 1. We recognise the problems of scientific research and of universities, which need to be able to attract the best people. I declare a small interest in that I have spent some time over the past two weeks trying to help my son get a renewal of his visa to move from being a student in the United States to holding a post-doctoral fellowship there, although I should say that the Haskel and Wallis report referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Turnberg, was not a reference to a member of my family…

And the Lords will be discussing this further on Monday afternoon, debating the statutory instrument by which the temporary cap has been put in place.

Posted in: Policy