Home Secretary, Theresa May, has launched the consultation document for the proposed permanent annual limit on non-EU economic migration. At the same time, details of a temporary limit to operate in the interim period until April 2011 were released. The coalition government had confirmed in its “Programme for Government” that it would aim to reduce the levels of net migration to the UK back to the levels of the 1990s – “tens of thousands, not hundreds of thousands”. Following from this, it was widely leaked to the press and other media over the weekend that a temporary limit on non-EU immigration would be introduced to prevent an anticipated increase in migration in advance of the cap being introduced. Audrey Elliott, partner at international law firm Eversheds comments:

“Global employers will be relieved to see Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfers, excluded from the temporary measures. We cannot guarantee that the permanent changes next year will leave this area untouched however. It is vital therefore that employers participate in the consultation process launched by the Migration Advisory Committee today.
“For Tier 2 General, which is subject to the cap, the detailed guidance on how this will work in practice will be eagerly awaited. Our expectation is that this will be managed via the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) allocation to employers. We can certainly expect applications in the future for additional CoS to be more difficult and maybe see the reduction in existing CoS allocation. For Tier 1, employers are advised that all pending applications should be assessed and prepared speedily if there is likely to be difficulties in a candidate satisfying the additional 5 points needed to increase the existing 75 point attribute requirement to 80 points.
“However the temporary cap is imposed, it is inevitable that employers will need to plan recruitment carefully so that CoS can be issued to priority new hires or other immigration routes explored.”