Home Secretary Theresa May has denied that businesses will seek to exploit a loophole in the Government’s new immigration rules that will allow firms to bring an unlimited number of employees to the UK for less than a year.
There will be a new minimum salary of £40,000 for firms using intra-company transfers (ICTs) to bring their own people into the UK for more than a year to do specific jobs, but employees staying for less than 12 months will be exempt.
The UK’s largest union warned firms would seek to abuse the system, “manipulating tax and accommodation allowances to undercut UK resident workers”.
But Mrs May said: “I don’t expect to see businesses gaming around these arrangements.
“We’ve listened to business in putting these arrangements in place and we’ve delivered a package that I believe is right for business.
“There are genuine reasons sometimes why businesses need to bring people in for less than a year. Perhaps there’s a particular project and they need to bring some expertise from another branch of the company.”
The Home Secretary also announced that the number of migrant workers coming to Britain from outside the EU would be cut by a fifth and capped at 21,700 from next year.
The number of skilled workers with job offers, who enter the UK on tier two visas under the points-based system, will be capped at 20,700 and will also be limited to graduate-level jobs, Mrs May said.
But the number of highly-skilled workers without a job offer – the old tier one route – will effectively be scrapped and replaced by up to 1,000 visas for those with “exceptional talent”, which will include sports people and scientists.
The inclusion of scientists in this new route will help address the concerns of universities who fear that the cap could make it harder for the UK to attract the world’s best researchers.