UK to cut list of occupations for skilled worker visas

by Ray Clancy on February 10, 2011

UK job visas capped

The list of jobs that qualify for skilled workers visas in the UK are set to be cut drastically as part of overall plans to reduce the number of people arriving from outside the European Union.

Hairdressers, beauty salon managers, air traffic controllers and estate agents could all be taken off the list but nurses, teachers, civil engineers and financial analysts are likely to stay, according to the Migration Advisory Committee, a non-departmental public body comprised of economists and migration experts that provides advice to the Government on migration issues.

In a new report, it also says ministers should consider raising the qualification threshold for skilled worker visas and making a degree level qualification compulsory would cut the list of qualifying occupations from 191 to 121.

New caps on visas come into play in April as part of the UK government’s pledge to cut net migration from around 200,000 to tens of thousands by 2015.

‘Skilled foreign workers make a valuable contribution to the British economy but, in the context of limits on migration, it is essential that the immigration system is designed to select those migrants we need the most,’ said Professor David Metcalf, chairman of the Migration Advisory Committee.

‘We have recognised this by ensuring our recommendations will allow the most skilled to continue to come and work here,’ he added.

Immigration Minister Damian Green said raising skills levels is likely. ‘This is a valuable contribution to ensuring that the immigration system allows firms to bring in people with necessary skills without immigration becoming the first resort to fill a wide range of available jobs,’ he said.

‘We asked the Migration Advisory Committee to advise the Government on graduate level occupations to ensure that only those who are able to fill skilled jobs can come to the UK,’ he added.

As part of the government’s pledge to reduce net migration, the annual number of non EU citizens who can apply for the highly skilled Tier 1 and Tier 2 work visas will be reduced to 21,700 from this April.

The Tier 1 cap will be set at 1,000 people a year, a large cut of more than 13,000 visas, while the number of Tier 2 visas will be upped by 7,000 to 20,700 to compensate. Intra company transfers for those earning more than £40,000 will be exempt from the migration cap.

A full list of occupations can be found at their site.

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