Press release

Extension of labour market restrictions

Controls to restrict how Bulgarian and Romanian nationals access the UK labour market will be extended until the end of 2013, Immigration Minister Damian Green announced today.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


Controls to restrict how Bulgarian and Romanian nationals access the UK labour market will be extended until the end of 2013, Immigration Minister Damian Green announced today.

This means Romanian and Bulgarian (A2) nationals seeking to work in the UK will continue to require permission from the UK border agency before they can work in the UK.

Immigration Minister Damian Green said:

‘Maintaining these controls will make sure migration benefits the UK and does not adversely impact on our labour market. The government is radically reforming the immigration system, and has already announced an annual limit on work visas and tough new rules for students to ensure net migration is reduced from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands.

‘The migration advisory committee has made a clear case for extending the existing restrictions on Bulgarians and Romanians. This government has also made clear that we will always introduce transitional controls on all new EU member states as a matter of course.’
The decision supports the government’s commitment to reduce employers’ dependence on migrant workers, particularly for lower skilled jobs. This will help the unemployed to find their way back into work and help the domestic workforce to acquire the skills the economy needs.

A report from the independent migration advisory committee (MAC) looked at the impact on the domestic labour market if the transitional controls were removed. It found that lifting the current restrictions could cause more A2 nationals to come to the UK to work, particularly in lower skilled occupations where there is greater risk of displacement of resident workers and a negative impact on wages.

Permission to work will normally be given only where the worker has a specific job offer and the work is in skilled employment for which the employer has been unable to find a suitably qualified resident worker. There are also quota-based arrangements for lower skilled jobs in the agricultural and food processing sectors which will stay at the same level for 2012 and 2013.

Notes to editors

1. The migration advisory committee’s report into A2 (Bulgarian and Romanian) nationals was released on 4 November 2011 and can be found here:

2. Migration should deliver economic benefit to the UK. Transitional restrictions have been in force since 1 January 2007. They restrict Bulgarian and Romanian nationals to employment that is either skilled or is in sectors where there continues to be a shortage of labour.

3. Workers from Romania and Bulgaria may also take part in the seasonal agricultural workers scheme (SAWS). The annual quota for SAWS will continue at 21,250 places for 2012 and 2013 and the annual quota for the sectors based scheme (SBS) will continue at 3,500 places for 2012 and 2013.

4. The extension of the restrictions does not affect the position of those who have already been authorised to take employment in the UK.

5. Under European law the current restrictions cannot continue beyond the end of 2013 and will therefore be lifted at that point.

6. For all the latest Home Office news, photos and video visit the media centre: Follow the Home Office on Twitter at

7. For more information please contact the Home Office press office on 020 7035 3535

Published 23 November 2011