News story

UK Government commits to impose migration limit

Home Secretary announces that number of workers entering the UK from outside Europe will be controlled by a new limit.

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

Net migration will be scaled back to the levels of the 1990s - with the effect that it will be in the tens of thousands rather than hundreds of thousands. Introducing a limit on migrants from outside Europe coming here to work is just one of the ways the government intends to achieve this.

Details of how the final limit will be delivered will be agreed following a 12-week government consultation with businesses. In the meantime, an interim limit will be introduced to ensure that there is no ‘closing down sale’ and the number of work visas issued stays below 2009 levels.

The results of the consultation on the permanent limit will pave the way for the government’s fundamental changes on the way in which workers from outside the European Union (EU) will be chosen to come and work in the UK.

The Home Secretary has also asked the Migration Advisory Committee, the government’s independent adviser on migration issues, to launch a separate consultation into what level the limit should be set at, taking into account social and economic impacts.

Home Secretary Theresa May said:

“This government believes that Britain can benefit from migration but not uncontrolled migration. I recognise the importance of attracting the brightest and the best to ensure strong economic growth, but unlimited migration places unacceptable pressure on public services.

“While we consult on our tough new limit it’s important we have an interim measure to avoid a “closing down sale” for migrants and ensure that the number of work visas issued stays below 2009 levels.

“The government will also introduce measures to support British people. Alongside limits will be action to get Britain back to work and provide business with the skills they need from the resident workforce - reducing the need for migrants at the same time as we reduce their number.”

The government’s consultation will run until the end of September. Permanent limits on non EU economic migration routes will then be decided and put in place by 1 April 2011.

To avoid large numbers of applications between now and April next year, the government will impose an interim limit which will take effect from 19 July 2010. The interim limits will ensure the number of visas issued under Tiers 1 and 2 of the points-based system are below that issued in 2009.

These interim measures include:

  • capping the number of Tier 1 migrants at current levels and raising the number of points needed by non-EU workers who come to do highly skilled jobs from 95 to 100.

  • limiting the number of certificates of sponsorship that licensed employers can issue to those who wish to come to fill skilled job vacancies. This will reduce the number of people entering through Tier 2 by 1,300.

The Home Secretary added:

“The government promised large-scale change to Britain’s immigration system - and that is what we are delivering. Alongside the limit on non EU migrant workers, we have already introduced a requirement that those coming here to marry learn English, and our urgent review into child detention for immigration purposes is under way.”

This article was first published on the UK Border Agency’s website.

Published 28 June 2010