In November 2008 the UK Border Agency (UKBA) completed its overhaul of the UK's business immigration schemes by replacing 80+ routes of entry with a five tier Points-Based System. On 19 July 2010, following the Government's pledge to reduce net migration to 1990s levels, the UKBA introduced "interim limits" on the number of migrants who would be able to apply to enter the UK under the Tier 1 (General) (highly skilled worker) and Tier 2 (General) (sponsored skilled worker) categories. You can see our previous update on this by clicking here.

A specially appointed body (the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC)) has also been considering what permanent cap should be placed on these immigration categories. The MAC has, today, published its "Limits on Migration: Limits on Tier 1 and Tier 2 for 2011/2012 and Supporting Policies" report. Some of the main points from the report are:

  • to place a limit of 8,000 - 11,100 on the number of Tier 1 entry clearance visas granted in 2011/2012 (a reduction of between 3,150 - 6,300);
  • to place a limit of 29,400 - 32,600 on the number of Tier 2 entry clearance visas granted in 2011/2012 (a reduction of between 3,150 - 6,300);
  • references to Tier 2 seem to, in certain places, include the Intra-Company Transfer scheme, even though the Government has recently suggested that this category would be exempt from the annual limits. The report also provides suggestions as to how this category could be restricted;
  • the UKBA should periodically review the points that can be awarded under the Tier 1 (including updating salary multipliers as quickly as possible) and Tier 2 categories; and
  • the UKBA could consider other options for reducing net migration including auctioning a portion of visas included within future annual limits and reviewing policy in relation to settling in the UK.  

The full MAC report can be reviewed here.