Immigration Minister Damian Green claimed that the minimum salary threshold would prevent temporary routes into the country being abused and bring immigration levels under control.
“Settling in the UK is a privilege,” he said. “We are sweeping aside the idea that everyone who comes here can settle, and instead reserving this important right only for the brightest and best.
“Our reforms of the immigration system will ensure we are more selective not only about those who are allowed to come here but also those who are allowed to stay permanently.”
The new threshold will prevent migrants coming to the UK under the tier-2 route being allowed to remain in the country for over six years unless they earn the minimum salary.
Scientists and researchers in PhD level roles, as well as those employed in jobs where there is a shortage of skills will be exempt from the threshold, as will those entering the country through the tier-1 route, including investors, entrepreneurs and “exceptionally talented migrants”.
In response to demands from business and industry, under new plans certain migrant workers including some professionals, artists, entertainers and sports people, will be allowed to carry out paid work in the UK for up to a month.
However, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has warned that if the government and employers fail in creating an inclusive workplace for migrant workers, Britain could be at risk of missing out on some of the best talent.
“The Government must be clearer that Britain welcomes the best talent from overseas,” said Dr Adam Marshall, director of policy at the BCC.
“Sometimes the rhetoric is off-putting. If skilled individuals think the UK doesn’t want their skills, they will go to our global competitors who have made their interest very clear.”