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Tier 2 Visa Rules Problematic for International Law Firms

The Law Society of England & Wales – together with business leaders across the nation’s capital – are fearful that the United Kingdom’s Tier 2 Visa rules are negatively impacting upon London’s position as a global recruitment leader.

Back in 2011, some three years ago, the UK Government introduced an immigration cap in a bid to restrict the number of non-EEA migrants who were able to obtain Tier 2 visas to both live and work in Britain. The cap does not apply to jobs paying a salary of £155,300 or more. Until June 2015, the cap had never been exceeded.

The Law Society is particularly concerned about London’s legal sector with strict Tier 2 Visa rules, preventing international law firms based here in the UK, from recruiting legal professionals from outwith the European Economic Area (EEA) – often the lawyers they wish to recruit.

According to the he Law Society, being able to recruit the lawyers the want from wherever they want is crucial to being able to take advantage of ‘lucrative emerging markets.'

The Law Society also has concerned that the tier 2 immigration rules, is forcing and will continue to force the UK based international firms transfer work to offices outside of the UK.

Commenting, Jonathan Smithers, who is the Law Society President, stated:

"A significant contribution is made to the UK economy by the legal sector.

"In 2013, it was responsible for bringing £22.6bn into the country's coffers, which represents 1.6 per cent of UK GDP. The majority of the legal sector's economic value is generated by international law firms operating in a competitive global market place…

"International legal firms work on complex deals that span multiple jurisdictions. In order to do this, these firms need to be able to employ and deploy teams of lawyers across the globe. Foreign employees provide expertise that is, by definition, unavailable in the UK labour market."

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) is currently carrying out a consultation looking at measures to reduce the numbers of skilled foreign workers entering Britain. The Law Society together with other business groups has responded to said consultation.

In their response to the MAC consultation the Law Society made their opinion clear by stating:

"Skilled foreign employees are generating significant revenues. One firm informed us that its London-based associates, currently holding a UK tier 2 visa, generated revenue that exceeded £26m for the London office in the 2015/16 financial year. Inclusive of trainees and partners, who also hold a tier 2 visa, the revenue generated surpassed £34m….

"It's crucial for the UK economy that the country remains as a world leader in the provision of dispute resolution and international legal services. Making tier 2 visa rules tighter and hindering firms from recruiting beyond the realm of the EEA will also threaten the jobs of UK/EEA nationals."

Also commenting, Sanwar Ali, current Editor of News, stated:

“The Government is putting employers in a very difficult situation. For about the last five years employers have needed to have a tier 2 sponsorship licence to employ people from outside the EEA. Obtaining a Tier 2 sponsorship licence is increasingly difficult, keeping it is difficult and also obtaining a Tier 2 visa is difficult. It also seem that the Home Office does not always tell the truth when justifying the revocation of sponsorship licences.

“People on tier 2 visas are those who are highly qualified and highly skilled. It seems that the Government has a deliberate policy to keep out the Brightest and the best.”

Contact us – Tier 2 UK Visa Application Lawyers

At Richmond Chambers LLP, our immigration barristers regularly assist employees to enter and remain in the UK under the Tier 2 General skilled worker category. We also assist employers to obtain Tier 2 Sponsor Licenses.  For advice and assistance with an application for entry clearance, extension of stay or settlement as a Tier 2 General migrant or with obtaining a Tier 2 Sponsor License, please contact our business immigration barristers and lawyers in London on 0203 617 9173 or by email


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