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Lawyer slams Visa rules as ‘anti-business’

Jamie Kerr, Immigration Solicitor, Thorntons

One of Scotland’s leading immigration lawyers has called for an urgent review of the UK’s business immigration rules as companies across the UK are being denied access to foreign staff, despite meeting all the necessary visa criteria.

Jamie Kerr, a partner at Thorntons solicitors in Edinburgh, was speaking after it emerged that the UK Government’s cap on the number of foreign workers has been breached for the third month in a row meaning that only those businesses paying the highest salaries are able to sponsor overseas staff.

He said: “The Home Office’s insistence on keeping their restrictive immigration cap is madness. It is damaging to so many successful businesses across the country and it’s quite frankly anti-business.”

“Given the current challenges around Brexit, it is important that the government supports businesses to innovate, grow and create jobs. But their obsession on capping employer visas at a wholly arbitrary number means that business are being starved of the international talent they need to grow unless they pay salaries that are for most businesses, simply unaffordable. “

The Home Office maintain a cap on the number of people who can be sponsored for visas by their employer and that number stands at 20,700 per year. That is a UK wide cap and is divided into monthly allocations. If the cap is breached in any given month, then the Home Office use a points scoring mechanism based upon salaries with those paying higher salaries scoring more points.

In December, the immigration cap was hit for the first time in 2 years. That has meant that despite meeting all the eligibility criteria for a visa, only those employees who had been offered salaries of £55,000 or over were able to take up employment in the UK. The cap was been breached again in January and again this month, with the required salary level dropping slightly to £50,000.

Jamie Kerr added: “The cap is creating chaos for companies. They cannot effectively plan recruitment or expansion as they don’t know if the cap next month will be breached again or what the threshold will be. Scotland and the English regions are being hit hardest by these rules and the cap needs to be scrapped or urgently re-thought because it is now damaging the country’s economic interests.”

Posted by Jamie Kerr


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