In November 2008 the UK Border Agency (UKBA) completed its overhaul of the UK's business immigration schemes by replacing over 80 routes of entry with a five tier Points-Based System. Since then the UKBA has revised the criteria for "scoring" points under various tiers in order to respond to changing conditions in the UK economy and labour market. On 19 July 2010, following the Government's pledge to reduce net migration to 1990s levels, the UKBA introduced "interim limits" on the number of migrants who would be able to apply to enter the UK under the Tier 1 (General) (highly skilled worker) and Tier 2 (General) (sponsored skilled worker) categories. This has restricted Tier 1 (General) applications to a monthly quota of 600 and has seen sponsoring employers have their Tier 2 (General) Certificate of Sponsorship allocation reduced, in many cases to zero.

A specially appointed body (the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC)) has also been considering what permanent cap should be placed on these immigration categories. On 18 November 2010 the MAC will publish its report to the Government on its proposals for the level of 2011/2012 annual limits on economic migration to the UK under the Tier 1 and Tier 2 categories. Employers are advised to carefully monitor the situation in order that they can seek to prepare for what is likely to be a further hurdle to overcome in recruiting key resources.

Bird & Bird will release a further update following the publication of the MAC's report.

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