UK to free more jobs for Indian experts, professionals

More Indian experts and professionals will be able to take up jobs in the United Kingdom later this year following a major announcement made by the Theresa May government on Wednesday amidst the cut-and-thrust of Brexit-related developments in Parliament.

Chancellor Philip Hammond said in a written ministerial statement in the House of Commons that the annual recruitment cap of 20,700 for non-EU professionals will be revised to remove PhD-level occupations, which means there will be no limit to such individuals being recruited.

Hammond said: “From Autumn 2019, PhD-level occupations will be exempt from the Tier 2 (General) cap, and at the same time the government will update the immigration rules on 180-day absences so that researchers conducting fieldwork overseas are not penalised if they apply to settle in the UK.”

The change is likely to be part of post-Brexit plans to scrap the current annual limit as recommended by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) in September 2018.

The announcement has been welcomed by UK universities, one of the major employers of international researchers.

Indian experts and professionals are already granted 54% of all work-related visas. The new change is likely to make it easier for Indian students in UK universities on PhD-level courses to take up work after completion, as it will help UK companies recruit more experts from India.

Vivienne Stern, director of Universities UK International, said: “This is fantastic news for Indian researchers who would like to work in the UK, and for UK universities, who thrive on bringing together a diversity of brilliant minds from around the world.”

“UK universities consistently produce world class research. Despite making up only 0.9% of the global population, the UK is responsible for 15.9% of the world’s most highly cited research articles. We simply could not achieve this without the international community of researchers that work at and with our institutions.”

“Many of the UK’s leading researchers, in fields ranging from biomechanics to gender politics, come from India. Outside of Europe, India is the third largest country of origin for academic staff in the UK,” the director of the body that represents UK universities globally added.

Ending preferential access of EU citizens to the job market is one of the key implications of Brexit. As an EU member-state, the UK is obliged to allow full rights to EU citizens, but ministers have announced that there will be a level-playing field between EU and non-EU applicants after Brexit.

As the MAC said in its major report, “We recommend that the cap is abolished — it creates uncertainty among employers and it makes little sense for a migrant to be perceived as of value one day and not the next which is what inevitably happens when the cap binds.”

“If the UK is in a position where it is deciding the main features of its immigration policy our recommendation is that there should be a less restrictive regime for higher-skilled workers than for lower-skilled workers in a system where there is no preference for EEA over non-EEA workers.”

First Published:
Mar 14, 2019 16:32 IST

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