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David Cameron unveils new non-EU migration crackdown

During Prime Minister's Questions, he proposed new restrictions on work visas, and a higher salary threshold before people are allowed into the UK.

Home Secretary Theresa May has asked the government's Migration Advisory Committee to come up with firm proposals by the end of the year.

Non-EU migration was 290,000 in 2014, an increase of 42,000.
Total net migration - the difference between the numbers entering and leaving the country - reached 318,000, close to its 2005 peak.

The government is still aiming to get net migration below 100,000, and with free movement enshrined in EU law, Mr Cameron has more freedom to act in relation to people coming from outside Europe.

Mr Cameron told MPs: "In the past it has been frankly too easy for some businesses to bring in workers from overseas rather than to take the long term decision to train our workforce here at home."

He said the advisory committee would consider:
• Restricting work visas to "genuine skill shortages and specialists"
• Putting a time limit on how long a sector can claim to have a skills shortage
• A new "skills levy" on businesses who recruit foreign workers, to be spent on UK apprenticeships
• Increasing the salary threshold for a skilled worker's visa
Currently, someone applying for a tier-two visa, covering skilled workers, must normally have been offered a job earning at least £20,800 and to have at least £945 in savings.
'Red herring'

Sir David Metcalf, who chairs the Migration Advisory Committee, said migration levels could be reduced but warned of "unexpected side effects" on productivity and the economy.

Skilled migration levels from outside the EU have been rising recently, he said.

"It's always worth checking that you've got the system right - we never get it completely right but we may be able to do it better," he said.


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