“What differentiates London First is that it doesn’t only have an acute understanding of all the relevant issues of the day – but it takes the required action too. The early success of the UK China Visa Alliance – which they were instrumental in setting-up, and continue to fund - is a testament to their approach.”
Chair, UK China Visa Alliance
London’s critical mass of talented people from around the globe is a major competitive advantage. Uncertainty in the business environment, specifically with respect to immigration policy, tax and the regulatory regime, could threaten this position.
London First advocates for immigration and border policies that enable global talent to work and study in London, encourages high-spending tourists to visit and ensure that all visitors are made to feel welcome when arriving at our border controls.
The UK must give a clear message to talented individuals and businesses worldwide that it is ‘open for business’. This is critical if we are to deliver the private sector growth needed to restore national finances.
As priorities, we will continue to resist any tightening of caps on the number of skilled migrants allowed to enter the UK and to lobby government to stop classifying students, who are here temporarily, as permanent migrants.
New research from London First and PwC shows international students are a boon to the UK, bringing a net benefit of £2.3 billion to the UK economy from London universities alone.
The report, London Calling: International students’ contribution to Britain’s economic growth, concludes that the capital’s higher education system is an export success story, with 92 per cent of students saying they would recommend studying in the UK to their friends and family.
The survey of current and alumni students from across London’s universities found that 60 per cent of international students are more likely to do business with the UK as a result of studying here.
It dismisses the myth that international students are a burden on public services, such as the NHS. Instead, they were shown to contribute a total of £2.8 billion through the spending they bring to the country, while only consuming £540 million in public spending.
For the last two years London First has actively campaigned for the immigration cap to be more business-friendly and to be set at a level that allows businesses to employ the best talent, irrespective of their country of origin. London First secured a concession from Government to consult with business before new measures were introduced in April 2011.
In February 2012, we wrote to the then Minister of State for Immigration, Damian Green MP, to make it clear that the Tier 2 immigration cap should not be lowered, and that intra-company transfers should not be restricted any further.
The Government listened, announcing on 4 April 2012 that it would hold the current cap level at 20,700 for the next two years, and that there will be no further changes to the intra-company transfer (ICT) route.
This is a significant step forward. The immigration cap directly affects all businesses that transfer employees between countries, and the announcement provides the stability needed for businesses to be better able to manage the composition of their workforces.
Key features of the announcement:
- Cap level for Tier 2 to remain at 20,700 until 2014 – Government is moving away from the current 12 month cycle for reviewing the limit in response to our concerns about frequent policy changes
- ICT route unchanged – still exempt from cap and salary thresholds remain as they are
- Some relaxation to the resident labour market test (where jobs paying Minimum skill level for Tier 2 migrants raised from NQF level 4 to level 6 with some exceptions
London First continues to press the Government to gather better data on both entrance and exit data for all migrants, so that any future policy changes are based on sound evidence.
We are also calling for customer service improvements and positive messaging so that the UK is and is seen to be ‘open for business’. We are working with the Immigration Minister, James Brokenshire, and his officials to achieve these goals.
Contact Mark Hilton for further information
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