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UK to exempt high earners from immigration cap

February 16, 2011 11:04 IST
UKHigh-earning non-European professionals, including Indians, will be exempted from an annual UK immigration cap which will come into effect in April.

The government on Tuesday announced that employers filling a vacancy that attracts a salary of 150,000 pounds or more will not be subject to the limit.

Home Office Minister Damian Green made clear that the decision to exempt those earning more than 150,000 pounds a year from the annual limit was intended to make it as business-friendly as possible and to dispel claims that Britain was not open for business.

"This shake up is part of the government's new annual limit on non-EU workers, which will take effect on April 6," the British Home Ministry said.

The David Cameron government last year had announced a permanent immigration quota intended to slash the number of non-EU nationals permitted to work in the country to around 20,700.

Under the new system, employers will have to apply for a Certificate of Sponsorship from the UK Border Agency for a specific post if they wish to bring someone to the UK.

Green said: "Britain needs to attract the brightest and the best to fill jobs gaps but this should never be at the expense of workers already in London.

"We have worked closely with businesses while designing this system, and made it clear employers should look first to people who are out of work and who are already in this country.

"And those that do come here to work must know that we intend to make the route to settlement
tougher. It can not be right that people coming to fill temporary skills gaps have open access to permanent settlement."

The annual limit of 20,700 COS will be divided into 12 monthly allocations. Due to the likely demand in the first month, 4,200 COS will be made available in April.

After that the limit will be set at 1,500 places per month. Any places that are unused each month will be rolled over to the following month.

In the event that the monthly allocation is over subscribed, COS applications will be ranked using a points system designed to favour jobs on the shortage occupation list, scientific researchers and those with a higher salary.

Once a COS has then been granted to an employer it must be assigned to the prospective employee within three months.

Workers from outside the EU who want to come to Britain will need to have a graduate level job, speak an intermediate level of English, and meet specific salary and employment requirements.

Green said Britain will benefit from migration provided it is controlled and directed towards improving our economy.

"I am not seeking zero or negative net migration. Our aim is to reduce the level of migration down to the levels of the 1990s -- tens of thousands each year, not hundreds of thousands," Green said.

These changes will be made by way of amending the 'Immigration rules' before April 6, he added.

H S Rao in London
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