Industry opposition to the Tier 2 limit continues to increase

Update on the Tier 2 interim limit

The interim limit

The interim limit on Tier 2 (General) visas was introduced on 19th July 2010 and is intended to continue until 31st March 2011. The current interim limit was introduced to stop a surge of applications before the permanent cap is introduced in 2011.

For further information on the interim limit, please see our previous news story here.


The interim limit has caused strong reactions in many areas, including from UK business leaders, and those representing the rights of the migrant workers  UK Work Permits Ltd has also experienced, first hand, severe difficulties in obtaining Certificates of Sponsorship, and the problems that this can cause potential employers, who are left without essential skilled staff. Some particularly notable reactions are highlighted below: 

Vince Cable

Business secretary Vince Cable, has recently described the immigration limit as “very damaging” to the British economy. He argues that businesses will be forced to move jobs abroad.

He has made his continued opposition to the current limit clear, and is apparently looking for a more flexible solution, which would allow variation in the limit according to the economic climate.

A news story in the Guardian regarding Vince Cable’s comments can be found here.

British Chambers of Commerce

The British Chambers of Commerce have made their concerns regarding the interim limit clear, describing the potential “damage to the economy” that a poorly considered immigration limit could have. They believe that a balance needs to be struck to ensure future economic growth in the UK.

A news story in the Independent regarding the British Chambers of Commerce’s comments can be found here.

General Electric

Mark Elborne, General Electric’s Chief Executive for North Europe, has made public the difficulties that he has encountered due to the interim limit. He has been unable to hire key staff and believes the interim limit has made the UK less attractive for potential investors. International businesses, he states, will see the UK as a “difficult place to do business”, threatening long-term growth.

A news story in the Telegraph regarding General Electric’s opinions of the interim limit can be found here.


The Confederation of British Industry (CBI), a business organisation which represents 240,000 businesses in the UK, has also spoken harshly of the way in which the interim limit has been put in place.

John Cridland, the Deputy Director-General of the CBI, has spoken of the “serious problems” caused by the interim limit, and points out that the figures used to calculate the level of the limit were “artificially low”. He states that companies have been left without the employees they need for growth, struggling with only “a handful of non-EU specialist staff.”

The CBI’s news release regarding the interim limit can be found here.


The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) is a charity which campaigns for justice in immigration matters.

The JCWI has maintained since its introduction that the limit on the number of migrant workers is not in the “economic interests of the UK”. Habib Rahman, chief executive of the JCWI, has called the limit “unnecessary” and “economic suicide”.

In accordance with this view, the JCWI are now fighting for a judicial review of the interim limit. Permission for the judicial review has yet to be granted.

The JCWI consultation response can be found here.

Habib Rahman’s comments on the interim limit can be found here.

What would a Judicial Review achieve?

The aim of a judicial review, if granted, will be to revoke or significantly alter the interim limit, in the favour of UK business and individual migrant workers. The JCWI claim that the interim limit was introduced without proper parliamentary approval, since neither the level of the limit nor details of how it would operate were presented to parliament.

The case is expected to be heard in the coming months if permission is granted for judicial review and hopes remain high that this challenge will be successful. Previous changes to the Points Based System have been recognised as having been made unlawfully and judicial reviews of immigration rules have had positive outcomes in the past.

A news story in the Independent regarding the JCWI’s attempt to bring about a judicial review can be found here.

Home Office response to the threat of a Judicial Review

Damian Green, the immigration minister, has announced that the government will “rigorously defend” any challenge made against the limit, which it introduced in order to decrease immigration by 5%.

A news story on the UK Border Agency website regarding the challenge against the interim limit can be found here.


There is clearly a significant backlash against the Tier 2 interim limit (and crucially, the rationale behind the current level, and the way the limit is being administered). It is affecting a large number of industries within the UK, and employers of all sizes (including many with significant influence and lobbying power).  The Government / UKBA is under significant pressure, including an attempted Judicial Review.  UKWP predicts that this  pressure is likely to increase until or unless something is done to reduce the negative impact of the limit, or until the long term limit is introduced in Spring of 2011. UKWP will continue to direct resources towards conveying our clients’ requirements to the UKBA, however, our resources are subject to practical limits, and it appears that currently, the Government / UKBA are taking an extremely rigid approach, regardless of very significant resistance from many sources.

There is certain to be more news on this subject in the near future. UKWP will post more nformation on this topic as soon as there are any significant developments.