Brexit Secretary David Davis has said the Conservative pledge to bring net migration down to the tens of thousands.

The most recent data shows that annual net migration to the UK is running at an estimated 273,000, so there is a long way to go.

Of those people, roughly half are European Union citizens and half are from non-EU countries.

When asked how long it would take to meet the objective, Mr Davis said: “We’re aiming to bring it down to sustainable levels as soon as is economically viable. And the aim is to do it in a way that doesn’t cause labour shortages, that allows us to train people up to do the jobs.”

The charge, introduced in April, is designed to encourage employers to train UK workers rather than employ overseas staff.

It affects workers seeking a Tier 2 work visa, which is for skilled workers earning more than £30,000 per year.

There is a cap of 20,700 Tier 2 visas available every year and some occupations are given priority to help fill skills shortages in the UK.

The government publishes a list of those priority occupations. It includes engineers, nurses and ballet dancers.

Some types of workers can avoid the cap altogether. For example, workers transferring within companies are not subject to that cap.

Overall, the number of Tier 2 visas was 56,058 in 2016.

Most of those visas are likely to attract the raised charge. That might be more manageable for larger employers, but for smaller companies it might be a more significant expense.

Funds from the higher charge will be used to train UK workers for those high priority sectors. That could mean more training in computers and information technology, as workers in those sectors take up half of the Tier 2 visas.

 

 

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