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UK’s new Visa regulations set to hit Indian firms

| | Updated on: Nov 23, 2016
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New salary norms, language proficiency for immigrants

New immigration rules that will impact Indian workers in the UK as well as their families, are set to come into affect on Thursday, as part of the UK government’s tightening of its immigration regime, but which critics argue will be damaging to the UK’s efforts to build relations with India.

Changes impacting a number of areas – including salary thresholds for those on a Tier-2 visa (the most common category for non-EU workers), and English language requirements for family members of non-EU migrants, were announced by the government earlier this year on the advice of the Migration Advisory Committee, an independent public body that advises the UK government.

In order to be sponsored, experienced workers will need to earn a salary of at least £25,000 pounds in all professions bar a few (nurses, radiographers, paramedics, and secondary school teachers in Maths, sciences, and Mandarin will be exempt until July 2019). The salary threshold is set to rise even higher next year to 30,000 pounds by April. The minimum salary for a Tier-2 migrant had been 20,800 pounds.

“This is a very reactionary and unthoughtful move by the government and wont help build the relationship between India and Britain,” said Virendra Sharma, Labour MP for Ealing Southall. He noted that the minimum salary required of foreign workers was rarely one that locally-trained workers would be able to earn. “Indirectly the government is saying that we don’t want you here.”

The government is also increasing the minimum salary for short-term staff using the intra-company transfer route – used by companies including the Indian IT sector to bring key personnel from abroad – to £30,000 pounds, and closing the ICT skills transfer sub-category.

‘Economically illiterate’ “Its an economically illiterate move,” said Lord Karan Bilimoria, a cross-bench member of the House of Lords, and Chair and founder of Cobra Beer, who noted the timing of the announcement of the implantation – made just before Prime Minister Theresa May visited India earlier this month.

“They are bringing in a non-tariff barrier to one of India’s most significant exports – the IT industry, which has contributed hugely to improving IT infrastructure across the public sector and brought in massive added value to the British economy.”

The government will also require partners and parents of immigrants applying to extent their stay after 2.5 years, to meet certain English language requirements. Harsev Bains of the Indian Workers Association in the UK expressed concerns about the move –pointing out the high level of English proficiency that would be required for family members. “This will mostly affect women from India and Pakistan between the ages of 20 and 35. It seems targeted at a particular community.”

Nasscom reiterates call for UK-India skilled worker pact

As Britan tightened up its rules governing the intra-company transfer Tier-2 visa used by Indian IT firms, software association Nasscom reiterated its call for a UK-India Highly Skilled Worker Mobility Agreement, that it had made alongside Britain’s techUK earlier this month when Theresa May visited the country. Movement of such workers should be seen as a “trade priority rather than an immigration issue,” Nasscom said on Wednesday.

Pointing to the 3.5 million high skilled graduates a year produced by India in areas where British businesses faced “severe skills shortages” a spokesperson for Nasscom said: “It is crucial our fast growing and high value tech sectors can rely upon an effective immigration policy that attracts high skilled workers and minimizes barriers to the flow of talented people between our two countries.”

“Temporary placement of highly-skilled individuals into the UK provides a significant economic boost yet has a negligible impact on net migration,” said the spokesperson.

Published on January 15, 2018

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