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Immigration caps won't touch tech transfers

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Home Secretary Theresa May's announcement of restrictions to immigration have met a mixed response - because intra-company transfers, well used by technology companies, are excluded from the deal.

The minimum salary for those entering the UK under intra-company transfers has been raised to £40,000 and their stay will be limited to five years.

Lobby group the CBI welcomed the decision.

John Cridland, director general designate of the CBI, said: “Exempting most ‘Intra-Company Transfers’ from the cap will also allow firms with international operations to manage their global workforce effectively. This will make sure that the UK remains an attractive place to base new projects and investment, which means more jobs for UK workers."

But APSCo, which has campaigned against intra-company transfers, said the announcement lacked clarity.

Ann Swain, APSCo's chief executive, questioned whether the £40,000 minimum salary would have any impact on reducing foreign workers because the average UK wage for IT professionals is close to £40,000.

Swain said: “About 80 per cent of non-EU IT workers come to the UK on intra-company transfers. The cap won’t significantly reduce that influx. We need full transparency on the pay and terms of conditions of workers entering the UK via the intra-company transfer route. The current system is far too opaque and is open to abuse. These proposals don’t radically change that.”

She warned the cap was a blunt tool which could do more damage than good. She said most people were worried about low-skilled workers being undercut by immigrant workers rather than highly-skilled workers.

The coalition government has also pledged to reduce the number of foreign students studying in the UK.

It is consulting on measures which could include tougher entry criteria such as English language tests, more rigorous inspections of colleges and limiting students rights to work or bring dependents into the country.

David Frost, director general of the British Chamber of Commerce, said he was glad the coalition had listened to business concerns. ®

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