For the first time since it was introduced in 2011 the Tier 2 quota for skilled non EEA migrants has been reached. The net effect of this is that successful applications from UK businesses (and the public sector) are likely to remain oversubscribed for the remainder of the year.
The cap is managed on a monthly basis and June 2015 was the first month in which the quota has been reached since the scheme’s introduction in April 2011. A rolling backlog of applications now looks likely to build up, making the application process throughout the rest of the year – and possibly beyond – even more difficult to navigate.
The annual Tier 2 cap is currently set at 21,700 and does not affect positions paying an annual salary in excess of £155,000. Those refused visas in June are reported to include doctors, nurses, teachers, accountants and solicitors.
The government’s insistence on maintaining the limit appears to be entirely at odds with the drive of British business to proceed on the basis of a skilled workforce. The government minister in charge of migration issues, James Brokenshire, has stressed his government’s intention to reduce the numbers of non EEA immigrants across the board. He has explicitly stated that there are no plans to amend the quota.
Aside from the politics of the issue, which will inevitably be played out across the media, the pressure on the number of available places will put an extra emphasis on the quality of all applications and their administration.
The news comes at the same time that Prime Minister David Cameron announced his desire to see qualifying salary thresholds raised and for the imposition of a time limit on declared skill shortage areas. Government policy in this area does at least appear to be consistent, even if it is radically out of step with the commercial reality of modern Britain.