LONDON: The annual cap of 24,100 professionals from India and other non-European Union countries to be announced on Monday will be open to challenge in the courts, an influential group representing professionals from India and other non-EU states said on Sunday.
Home Secretary Ms Theresa May is scheduled to announce the temporary cap to be implemented between now and April 2011 on Monday.
It means that British employers will not be able to employ any Indian and other non EU professionals once the limit of 24,100 is reached.
Mr Amit Kapadia, director of Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP) Forum that fought a successful legal challenge against immigration rules, said the government’s move to impose an "illogical" cap will be opposed.
"We don’t think that any sort of cap would work out. It would be unworkable. The effects remain to be seen, but if the government really tries to implement drastic measures it is going to cause a lot of unhappiness, especially among migrants who work hard and pay taxes," he said. "A consultation should take place with stakeholders to assess impact of such measures otherwise any such unsubstantiated measures with procedural defects will be reviewable in the courts," he added.
The cap will adversely affect Indian professionals because most non-European Union migrants to the UK come from India. Indians have been among the largest group of professionals recruited in the IT, medicine, education and services sector every year.
"Taking such drastic measures will affect UK businesses and in turn it will affect the economy. What we feel is there shouldn’t be any knee-jerk reaction just to show that the government is tough on immigration," Mr Kapadia said. "The government needs to keep in mind the possible consequences which will be faced by employers due to such unfair measures," he underlined.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for London mayor Mr Boris Johnson also expressed opposition to the annual cap. "A crude cap could be very detrimental to the free movement of the talented, creative and enterprising people who have enabled London to be such a dominant global force," he said.
Sections of Prime Minister, Mr David Cameron government and sections of British trade and industry have opposed the annual cap plan on the ground that the British economy will ultimately suffer if employers are not allowed to hire the right kind of professionals from abroad if talent in certain sectors is not available within the country.
The agreement between coalition government partners Conservatives and Liberal Democrats says: "The government believes that immigration has enriched our culture and strengthened our economy, but that it must be controlled so that people have confidence in the system." "We will introduce an annual limit on the number of non-EU economic migrants admitted into the UK to live and work. We will consider jointly the mechanism for implementing the limit," it said.
In its pre-election pronouncements, the Conservative party had favoured the reduction of net immigration to the levels of the 1990s – "tens of thousands a year, instead of the hundreds of thousands every year under the Labour government."
Mr Kapadia said in the 1990s the overall net immigration was around 70,000 every year. In 2009, the figure was nearly 1,50,000. Taking steps to bring the figure down to 70,000 now will mean a drastic cut, which would be unworkable and would be liable to face legal challenges.
Mr Michael Gove, Schools secretary, and Mr David Willetts, Universities minister, have reportedly raised concerns about the annual cap at a cabinet committee meeting chaired by deputy Prime Minister, Mr Nick Clegg. The Liberal Democrats had strongly opposed the cap during the election but agreed to it in the coalition agreement.
According to a media report, the coalition has been forced to water down the plan to cap immigration following a revolt in the cabinet. Under the revised scheme, executives from multinational companies and other highly paid foreigners will be exempt from the strict limits being placed on economic migrants.