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CaSE publishes joint letter to the Home Secretary and new FOI data, ahead of MAC report

18 Sep 2018

With the Migration Advisory Committee publishing their latest report on the shape of a future migration system post-Brexit, CaSE has written to the Home Secretary and published new FOI data on Tier 2 visa refusals

MAC report and letter to Home Secretary sets out vision for future migration system

CaSE has written a joint letter to the Home Secretary with the BioIndustry Association and TechUK cautioning that an expansion of the non-EEA system would pose significant problems for businesses, particularly small, high growth innovative businesses, by incurring increased costs, complexity and time burden, for individuals, employers and UK systems. 

Commenting, CaSE Executive Director Dr Sarah Main said:

“The Government has made ambitious plans to ramp up the UK’s research and innovation activity, and invested billions of pounds to this end over the next three years. Because science is internationally collaborative, the Home Office can take us a step closer to this vision by creating a migration system that supports research and innovation. 

We have heard from R&D-led businesses that an expansion of the visa system for non-EU citizens would pose significant problems because of the increased burden of cost, complexity and time it would incur. It may particularly impact on small, high growth innovative businesses because they typically do not engage with the visa system at present for these reasons.

Instead, this is a perfect opportunity for the UK to create a high-tech, streamlined digital migration system, fit for the future. The current approach to registration of ‘settled status’ by EU nationals in the UK is a great model – a simple, digital solution in an app – and could be a starting point for a new system.”

New data on the impact of Tier 2 cap on recruitment of science, technology and engineering professionals

In May 2018 CaSE published FOI figures from the Home Office on the number of refused visas due to the Tier 2 visa cap between December and March. Headline news coverage and coordinated pressure led to a policy change announced by the Government in June. 

New FOI data obtained by CaSE has found that in total between December 2017 and July 2018, 14,257 Tier 2 (General) visas were refused due to the annual cap. You can read analysis of the new FOI figures here.

The number of refusals increased month on month from December (1093) to June (2668), until a policy change by the Government in June dramatically reduced the number of refusals in July (834). We understand that the cap has not been exceeded since July.

Over the total period, 14,257 Tier 2 certificates of sponsorship were refused, of which 8,105 were in STEMM-related jobs: 

Science & Engineering847
Other medical professions841
Professional services4341
Other professions1263
Of which STEMM8105

The policy change led to no doctors or nurses being refused a visa in July. This also led to a vast reduction in the number of visas refused for scientists & engineers, IT & tech workers, teachers, professional service workers and other medical professionals.

Commenting on the new FOI data, CaSE Executive Director Dr Sarah Main said:

“It took a crisis in recruitment of skilled workers from outside the EU to create the impetus for change of the ‘Tier 2’ visa system earlier this year. New data shows the extent of impact on recruitment of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) professionals. In the face of substantial pressure, exemptions were created to the cap on entry via that route for doctors and nurses. The Government should learn lessons from this episode and do all it can to avoid the risk of such loss of talent again. We call for no arbitrary caps on skilled workers in future.”   

Further details from the FOI data on the impact of the Tier 2 visa cap can be found below:

Total number of refusals per month: 


Earlier this year CaSE published a new immigration briefing, which calls on the government to rebuild confidence in the short term (amending visa rules, improving immigration messaging and providing confidence during the Brexit transition), and create a streamlined system in the long term that supports research and innovation.