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Highly skilled immigration limit reached 20 days early in November

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The UK Border Agency announced the monthly limit on "tier 1" highly skilled non-EU migrants was reached three weeks early this month.

In October, you may remember, the limit was reached 10 days before month-end.

If the trend continues, as seems likely, the limit for December could be reached before the month even begins!

This means that processing delays for tier 1 visas will become longer and longer.

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

Last week, however, Home Secretary Teresa May signalled the government would bow to pressure and exempt "intra-company transfers" from the scheme to allow companies to bring in unlimited staff from overseas offices. Hard pressed businesses will surely welcome the news, but the change will not take effect until April 2011 at the earliest.

Later this month, judicial review proceedings will commence in the high court on the legality of the immigration limit.

The case is being brought by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants and a number of employers who believe Home Office ministers sidestepped proper parliamentary approval in introducing an interim immigration cap before a permanent one comes into effect next year.

About tier 1

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. Click on the links below to learn more.

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