Damian Green, the Immigration Minister, gave a key speech on the Government's proposed immigration plans to the Reform think tank on 1 February. The Immigration Minister said he will be:
'taking action to tighten our migration system across all entry routes for non EEA-migrants – work, students and family – and to break the link between temporary routes and permanent settlement'.
The Minister reiterated the November 2010 announcement that there will be a limit of 20,700 on skilled workers coming to the UK under tier 2 general for the 12 months from 6 April 2011. He also confirmed that the Government will be raising the minimum skill level and allowing only economic migrants with a job offer to come to the UK.
On intra-company transfers, Green confirmed that there will be an exemption for those earning £40,000 from the limit on non-EU economic migration. Under the proposals those coming to the UK under the intra-company transfer route and earning less than £40,000 will be subject to a limit of 12 months on their stay in the UK.
Tier 1 general will close permanently to be replaced by the new tier 1 (exceptional talent) route with a limit of 1000 visas per year.
Defending the new rules against criticism that the economic health of Britain would deteriorate as a result of the new plans, he stated: 'This is not about closing our doors; it is about a more selective approach in the interests of Britain.'
On the subject of settlement, Green announced his intention to consult on all routes of settlement in the Spring, stating that:
'since 1997, there has been an eight fold increase in numbers settling in the UK from employment-related categories. It cannot be right that people coming to fill temporary skills gaps have open access to permanent settlement'.
In addition, he spoke about the Government's plans to consult on new proposals regarding the family route. This follows on from the introduction in November 2010 of the requirement that individuals applying for a marriage visa now have to demonstrate a minimum standard of English.