Tighter immigration rules to close door to 270,000 workers

The Immigration Minister, Damian Green, has decided to halt the recruitment from overseas of migrant chefs from outside Europe to work in any establishment that provides a takeaway service.

The change is proposed as part of a package of further immigration restrictions, which will see eight jobs removed from the official shortage occupation list under which skilled migrants from outside Europe can come to work in Britain.

"These changes to the shortage occupation list will ensure that only skilled workers are coming to the UK through tier two of the points-based system.

It will allow firms to bring in people with necessary skills without migrants becoming the first resort to fill a wide range of available jobs," Green said.

Earlier, the government said that it would follow a migration advisory committee recommendation to keep open 5 per cent of chef jobs in the UK to overseas chefs but would impose stringent earnings and experience criteria.

But ministers have decided to go further in ruling out any chefs being recruited to work in any establishment that provides a takeaway service.

The Home Office has also confirmed that those coming to work as a skilled migrant in Britain will only be able to fill graduate-level jobs.

The package will reduce the number of jobs open to non-European skilled migrants from 500,000 to 230,000 – fewer than 1 per cent of the UK labour force.

However, 5,500 skilled migrants who came to the UK in 2010 to work in shortage occupations will be excluded by the new rules.

The eight occupations being removed from the 38 on the official shortage list include high-integrity pipe welders, airframe fitters, electricity industry site supervisors, skilled meat boners and trimmers, skilled senior care workers and skilled sheep shearers.

The change means the list will now mainly include skilled engineers, jobs in medical, nursing and veterinary professions, maths and science teachers, visual effects and computer animators and certain ballet/contemporary dancers and musicians.

The restrictions mostly follow recommendations made by the committee and include closing the door on senior skilled care workers, despite representations from care homes, which claim they are unable to recruit British or European staff.

It is thought, however, that care home managers and nurses are excluded from the ban.
More than 1 million jobs were open to skilled non-EU migrants when the government’s migration advisory committee produced its first shortage occupation list in 2008.

Earlier, the Labour government made a similar proposal in 2008 to restrict the influx of skilled cooks and chefs, which provoked a demonstration in London’s Trafalgar Square by thousands of people from the Asian communities.

Foreigners are currently able to obtain work permits for around 500,000 posts that bosses say cannot be filled by British or EU workers, according to a media report.

But from April that will fall to 230,000 when non-graduate jobs are taken off the Home Office "shortage occupation list", it said.

Florists, non-EU beauty salon managers, estate agents, florists, pipe fitters, steel erectors and welders will be among those barred from the list, it said.

Midwives, chartered surveyors and management accountants also stay on the approved list, it added.

The Home Office has commissioned an expert review of all the remaining categories on the list.

If the Migration Advisory Committee finds there are enough unemployed British workers with the required skills, tens of thousands more posts could be closed.

The British government want to ensure that priority access to Britain's labour market is granted only where there are real skills shortages.

Firms looking to fill jobs which appear on the shortage list do not have to advertise to British workers first, and applicants do not have to meet an earnings test.

More than 1.15 million Eastern European workers have signed up to the Home Office’s worker registration scheme.

The job categories listed as skilled under Tier 2 will be cut from 192 to 121. Officials estimate around 65 per cent of the 8,400 work permits issued last year to workers on the shortage list would not have qualified under the new rules.

The shake-up is part of efforts to cut net migration – the number that migration adds to the population every year – to the tens of thousands by 2015 which had hit 226,000 last year.

The student visa system will also be modified so only the "brightest and the best" can come to Britain as the Home Office figures suggest more than a quarter of those at private colleges flout immigration rules.

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