The number of overseas IT workers turned away from jobs they were offered in the UK fell 68 per cent in the month after the UK government removed nurses and doctors from an immigration cap.
Home secretary Sajid Javid tweaked the rules for skilled workers entering the UK from outside the European Union via the Tier 2 (General) visa route in June.
This saw healthcare professionals exempted from a cap on entry, which is set at 20,700 but divvied up on a monthly basis.
The decision came after pressure from campaigners, who pointed out that the cap was being hit every month – thus regularly preventing people that UK businesses wanted to hire from taking up their jobs.
By the summer, NHS roles were understood to be taking up as much as half of the monthly cap – and the overall effect was that thousands of people from various professions, including tech, were being refused entry.
Figures previously released by the Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE) in May showed that 6,080 eligible applications were refused between December 2017 and March 2018, with 1,226 of these for IT and technology roles.
The number of refusals increased over the next three months – partly because those knocked back in one month can try again in the next. New data, obtained through Freedom of Information requests and published today, show a peak of 541 refusals for IT roles in June 2018.
However, the next month, July 2018 – after nurses and doctors had been removed from the cap – refusals for IT roles fell 68 per cent, to 171.
This is the largest percentage drop across all professions – refusals for teaching roles fell just 8 per cent, although refusals for science and engineering roles dropped 42 per cent.
Overall, there were 834 refusals in July, compared with 2,668 refusals in June.
CaSE said it understood the Tier 2 cap was not reached in August, which would mean applications meeting all criteria were successful.
“We hope that this trend will continue to provide employers with certainty and prospective employees with confidence they will be able to work in the UK,” it said.
The group is pushing for the cap to be abolished altogether, arguing that not only is it an arbitrary number, it also creates administrative burden because dividing the 20,700 visas up on a monthly basis creates a backlog of employers who keep applying each month.
“This means that each month has its own limit, but this arbitrary cap is creating a large backlog of applications as employers will reapply the following month should their application not be accepted,” it said.
“We want to make sure that any future migration system does not hold itself to an arbitrary cap.” ®