New Tier 2 visa exemptions to boost IT entrants

Rules tipped to be laid by the government as soon as today will place specific holes in the Tier 2 immigration cap on skilled entrants from outside the EU.

Floated by Home Secretary Sajid Javid, the move is set to boost the number of highly skilled techies that enter Britain – at least indirectly, and in the immediate term.

Currently, Mr Javid’s plans to exempt certain Tier 2 applicants are understood to extend only to doctors and nurses, so the National Health Service can secure more of the staff it needs.

But this removal of medical staff from the cap – currently set at 20,700 applicants a year – will create space for other sector-skilled migrants to work in the UK, such as IT specialists.

“Feedback from recruiters show[s] the UK has a shortage of candidates in a whole range of industries,” the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) said yesterday.

“This move will be extremely welcome to employers in sectors like engineering and IT, as it will increase their ability to secure top talent from abroad.”

Migration Watch UK condemned the plans as “short-sighted,” favouring the longer term solution of training UK residents to become nurses and doctors. It added:

“The potential impact is not merely that a further 7,000-8,000 skilled workers could enter the UK but that unlimited numbers of medical staff could enter…this is the wrong approach.”

But as the need for foreign skills will only rise, the plan suggests the government is ‘finally starting to see sense’, said REC, which believes the next Tier 2 ‘exemptees’ may be students.

The move coincides with 75% of staffing bosses forecasting skills shortages (which IT contractors tend to capitalise on), to increase within their sectors over the next two years.

Revealed during the latest Association of Professional  Staffing Companies survey, the figure increases to 87% among the recruitment leaders who hire the highly skilled.

On Wednesday night, a new Start-Up visa from Spring 2019 was floated by the government, aimed at replacing a graduate-only visa route by opening it up to talented business founders.

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Written by Simon Moore

Simon writes impartial news and engaging features for the contractor industry, covering, IR35, the loan charge and general tax and legislation.
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