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October immigration cap reached 10 days before month-end

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The UK Border Agency has announced the monthly limit for "tier 1" highly skilled non-EU migrants was reached ten days before month-end in October.

While it has temporarily stopped issuing visas, the Agency is still accepting applications however. Successful applicants will just have to wait until after 1 November before their visas are processed.

The controversial 600 visas per month cap has been roundly condemned by business groups since it was introduced in July.

Earlier this month, the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, along with a number of other companies from a range of industries, commenced legal proceedings in the high court for judicial review of the immigration cap.

The crux of their complaint is that Home Office ministers sidestepped proper parliamentary approval in introducing an interim immigration cap before a permanent one comes into effect next year. Court action is scheduled to commence next month.

Immigration minister Damian Green is unrepentant, however: "We will rigorously defend this challenge and are confident of success. The government has been clear, we will introduce our permanent annual limit on economic migrants from outside the EU from April 2011.

"While we decide how the annual limit should operate it is imperative that we have interim measures in place to avoid a rush of applications from migrants before the new rules take effect."

Tier 1 of the UK's points-based immigration system allows highly skilled migrants to come to this country to look for work or self-employment opportunities for up to two years. To qualify, applicants must score at least 75 points based on their qualifications, previous earnings, age, language skills and have at least £2,800 in their bank account.

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