• United Kingdom: UK Government Formally Begins Developing its Permanent Economic Migration Caps
  • July 26, 2010
  • Law Firm: Fragomen Del Rey Bernsen Loewy LLP - New York Office
  • The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), the UK government’s independent advisor on immigration issues, has formally launched its consultation to begin working on the country’s annual cap system for employment-based visas.

    As reported earlier this week, the UK government will implement a temporary cap on the number of foreign workers it admits that will be in effect from July 19, 2010 through April 1, 2011. A permanent cap system, which is the subject of the MAC’s consultation, will take effect thereafter. The introduction of the caps is part of an effort to reduce the overall level of migration into the UK, which was a key election pledge of the Conservative Party. This consultation by the MAC seeks to examine how this reduction may be achieved while balancing the socio-economic impact of migration with the impact on public services.

    The MAC’s consultation is going to study Tiers 1 and 2 of the Points Based System and advise the UK government on the appropriate level at which the first annual cap should be set for these programs. The MAC will accept submissions from the public as part of the consultation until September 7, 2010. Specifically, the MAC is focusing on three distinct questions:

    1. What criteria should the new caps take into account and how should these criteria be balanced?
    The MAC will take into account the social, public service, and economic impacts of immigration into the UK when recommending suitable limits for Tiers 1 and 2.

    2. Taking into account the UK government’s overall goal of reducing the net level of immigration, what should be the objective of the UK’s migration system?
    The caps will play a role in the UK’s government’s broader goal of reducing net migration to below 100,000 annually, and the MAC must focus on how a reduction of migrant workers will affect the UK’s overall objectives for its migration system. The MAC will also take into account the level of migration from within the European Economic Area and the emigration of British citizens.

    3. In order to achieve this objective, what trajectory should the limits on Tier 1 and Tier 2 admissions take?
    The MAC will focus on the mechanics of setting the annual caps on Tier 1 and Tier 2. It will examine how the caps should be phased in over the duration of the current Parliament to achieve the objective of reducing net migration to less than 100,000 annually. 
    The UK government has indicated that it wishes the annual caps to lead to predictable outcomes for cases and to be fair and rational, as well as practical and operable. However, the UK government has interestingly suggested that it may have to introduce additional elements of “selectivity” to its economic migration policies to attract foreign workers who will bring the most economic benefits to the UK.

    Fragomen London is actively participating in the MAC’s consultation and is collaborating with senior officials at the UK Border Agency to prepare a survey of Fragomen clients on how caps will affect their operational ability in the UK and the potential impact of caps on economic recovery generally.

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