The 2011 UK immigration cap – do the figures add up?

by Laurie Anstis on November 23, 2010

The BBC is reporting that the government will today announce that the cap on Tier 1 and Tier 2 immigration for 2011 will be 43,000, down 13% from the 2009 figure of 50,000. Tier 2 intra-company transfers will be exempt from the cap where the salary for the role is over £40,000.

The immigration statistics for 2009 (pdf link – see table 1.1) show total Tier 1 permissions granted of 18,780, with 36,490 Tier 2 permissions being granted, of which 22,030 were intra-company transfers. This comes to 55,270, including intra-company transfers.  Taking off 4,245 for the post-study Tier 1 category gives something like the quoted 50,000.

However, of that 50,000, 22,030 were intra-company transfers. Not all of these will have been at salaries of over £40,000, but many will have been. If the majority have been earning over £40,000, then that will mean that over 11,000 of these would have been outside the cap under the new rules and the figures for 2009 would have been something like 39,000 or less inside the cap and 11,000 or more outside the cap.

Given that the cap for 2011 is to be 43,000, this suggests that the question of whether the cap will result in more or fewer non-EU nationals acquiring the right to work in the UK depends entirely on how many of the 2009 intra-company transferees earned over £40,000. Despite the cap, there may be a higher number of non-EU nationals gaining the right to work in the UK than did in 2009.

Immigration statistics are notoriously complicated and contentious, and it remains to be seen what the detail of the government’s new proposals are. I would love to hear from any commenters with comments/corrections on my interpretation.

Update: the morning’s reports were misleading. Cap now announced at 21,700, plus ICTs. 21,700 plus the figure of 22,000 or so ICTs would come to approximately the reported figure of 43,000.

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