UK visa limits hurt movement of professionals around the globe

Do you believe in the free movement of international professionals around the globe? Do you think each country should make this process easier and simpler rather than pursuing the small minded xenophobic protectionist policies that seem to be the norm presently? Surely every country would benefit from allowing skilled contract workers to be allowed to come in and perform a particular role for a short term project. We're not talking about relatively unskilled labour but experienced, educated professionals that are not looking to abuse immigration regulations but perform short term roles.

In many aspects the world is now an open market with the relatively free movement and trade of goods and services but the free movement of highly skilled professionals (which for all intensive purposes is much the same thing) remains mired in bureacracy and short sighted politicking. You only have to look at the recent changes made by the UKBA in the UK ,difficulties in acquiring the Labour Agreement in Australia or the fact that it is now nigh on impossible to acquire Work Permits for France to see this global trend.

The question begs as to why? The controlled short term movement of such individuals can only benefit an economy. Unfortunately  the current global (particularly in Europe and the USA) economic situation places governments in a position where they seem to have to justify their immigration policies to the electorate. Local tabloid press take on this issue in the guise of championing the protection of local employment (read; selling newspapers), thereby providing a forum and ground swell of popular opinion that the government can't ignore. This premise of protecting local employment is not in itself misguided but the approach the governments (particularly in the UK) are taking in order to appease the masses is unbelievably short sighted.

406,455 visas were issued from July 2008 to June 2009. Of these 54,290 were student visas, with just 6,885 Tier 1 (Highly Skilled) and 17,000 Tier 2 (sponsored work permit) 'employment related' visas. So,  5.87% of visas issued were for professionals. As pointed out in this article . The only caps being placed on visas in the round of changes to be implemented from April 1st 2011, Tier 1 and Tier 2. So the government (on presumably UKBA advice) have decided that the best way to preserve UK jobs, reduce the strain on public services and to assist the UK economy from an immigration perspective is to reduce the already small inflow of highly skilled workers. Workers that come into the UK and pay tax and provide skills that are in short supply in the economy. Unsurprisingly the business community is outraged. The effect of these policies won't really be measured for at least a year or so.


Cap on foreign information technology workers under Tier 2 visa scheme is especially damaging to London according to british businesses.

The FT says businesses need to speak up if they want access to skilled foreign labour.

Excellent analysis from the Economist about how to improve the prospects for local workers by scrapping the UK Tier 2 Visa cap: "the solution is to improve the indigenous workforce’s skills, not to choke the arrival of those who already have them."

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