Business leaders have warned the government that tighter restrictions on immigrant workers could inflate costs, impede graduate schemes and even cause companies to leave the UK.
Major companies including Rolls Royce, Siemens and Asda made their recommendations in formal submissions to the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), a body that advises the government on immigration.
The MAC has been reviewing a proposal put to it by Prime Minster David Cameron to tighten immigration rules from countries outside the European Economic Area (EEA), such as raising the minimum salary requirements for skilled foreign workers on ‘Tier 2’ visas.
However, after gathering opinions from businesses over a two-week period in June and July, MAC published a report last week recommending that the government reconsiders its plans.
In the report, MAC experts said: “There is little doubt that an immediate introduction of a salary threshold at this level would be strongly opposed by many employers and would cause serious problems in particular sectors.”
The London First business group’s submission warned that the proposed changes could have a detrimental effect on small businesses in the capital, saying: “If startups or small businesses choose to locate elsewhere because of the difficulty of recruiting talent in London, this will have a knock-on effect on London’s creative sector.”
Sir David Metcalf, chair of MAC, said: “Salary thresholds are closely linked with other issues the government has asked the MAC to consider in its wider review, including proposals for an immigration skills charge on migrant workers.”