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Restricting Points-Based Migration

Scott M. James
Faegre & Benson LLP - London Office

July 20, 2010

Previously published on July 7, 2010

The new coalition government's main immigration proposal is the introduction of a cap on the number of skilled workers allowed to work in the United Kingdom in future. In a series of announcements late last month, the government unveiled the following steps to turn this proposal into practice.

  • The United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA) will impose numerical limits on Tier 2 (General) applications, first by means of "interim limits" from July 19 and then through "annual limits" from April 2011. The interim limits aim to prevent employers accelerating applications to beat the restrictions of the annual limits.
  • For the interim limits, UKBA will reduce the number of Tier 2 (General) certificates of sponsorship each sponsor is currently authorised to issue and restricting the Tier 2 (General) certificates new sponsors will be authorised to issue. Although there will be a mechanism for requesting relief from an interim limit in "extraordinary circumstances," the great majority of sponsors are expected to issue fewer Tier 2 (General) certificates.
  • The annual limits system is likely to apply to more categories than the Tier 2 (General) category. The government will develop the scope and operational details of the annual limits system through a public consultation. In its consultation document, the government discusses a number of proposals for how the system might work and solicits responses to a series of questions related to these proposals. The consultation period has begun and will end on September 18.
  • The government asked the Migration Advisory Committee for advice on the appropriate levels at which annual limits should be set for the first full year. The terms of reference require MAC to consider the social and public service impacts of migration, as well as its economic impacts, in determining the levels it recommends. MAC is soliciting public input though September 7.

In a related move, the government published legislation to implement interim limits on Tier 1 (General) applications. Each limit will apply only to Tier 1 (General) applications, not other Tier 1 routes, and will apply only to applications made outside the United Kingdom. A "grant allocation," periodically announced on the UKBA website, will define interim limits on a monthly basis. Tier 1 (General) applications that are otherwise successful at a time when a current grant allocation has been exceeded will be re-allocated to the next "relevant grant allocation period" for consideration.


The views expressed in this document are solely the views of the author and not Martindale-Hubbell. This document is intended for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for consultation with a licensed legal professional in a particular case or circumstance.

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