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New immigration rules announced for tier 1 and tier 2 visas

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The government announced new immigration rules yesterday to limit the flow of migrants into the UK from outside Europe.

The most important of the rule changes, which will take affect from April 2011, include:

  • The annual limit on "highly skilled"/"exceptional" migrants (e.g., scientists, academics and artists) from outside the EU who have yet to secure a job in the UK will decrease from 13,000 to 1,000.
  • The annual limit on "skilled" migrants with graduate-level jobs to go to will increase from 15,000 to 20,700. Intra-company transfers (ICTs) will be exempt from this limit. However, for workers staying over a year, the ICT exemption will only cover workers earning more than £40,000 -- about 50% of ICTs will satisfy this requirement.
  • There will be no limit on the number of "entrepreneurs" and "investors" allowed into the UK.

Announcing the changes, Home Secretary Theresa May said: 'The government has set out a clear, rational approach to which workers we will allow into the UK job market. We have set out an approach which will not only get immigration down to sustainable levels but at the same time, protects those businesses and institutions which are vital to our economy.

'We will take action on all routes into the UK and these changes are crucial if we are to limit the numbers coming here to work, while still attracting the brightest and the best to the UK.

'We have worked closely with businesses while designing this system, and listened to their feedback, but we have also made clear that as the recovery continues, we need employers to look first to people who are out of work and who are already in this country.'

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