How does the immigration cap work?

July 18, 2017 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Online Auction

When it comes to immigration law there are several different ways in which you can live or settle permanently in the U.K. which can make it more confusing in understanding your options.

Migrants to the U.K. tend to fall in one of five categories: economic migrants, students, temporary workers or visitors, refugees and asylum seekers, or people arriving for family reasons such as marriage.

Family Reunion

The easiest category to explain is that of a family reunion. Simply put, if you are the partner or spouse of a British citizen or anyone permanently living in the U.K., you can ask to join that partner in Great Britain. This only applies to what the Home Office classes as ‘pre-existing families’.


The refugee category is also relatively simple as well. If you hold the belief that you require protection because you are being persecuted, you can apply for asylum. However it is crucial that you inform the customs and immigration officer that you intend to apply for asylum as soon as possible. It is important that any asylum applicant meets the criteria of the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. If however, you do not meet the criteria, you may still be granted permission to remain in the U.K. in the form of exceptional leave to remain (ELR), as the Home Office would not want to return an applicant to a country where they would be in danger.

Economic Migration

The immigration system draws a distinction between people who live within the European Union and those who live from the rest of the world. This is because of how European Union law allows for residents of those countries to compete for jobs in other E.U. member states. So should a resident of an EU member state wish to move to the U.K. for economic migration they cannot face unfair or unnecessary immigration policies.

The U.K. is part of what is known as the European free trade area and so goods, services and labour can move freely across state borders. Just as a French solicitor can come to work in the U.K., a British solicitor can move to France to work Simply enough, but what if you are from Australia, or South Africa, or any other country not within the E.U.?

Even if it is a Commonwealth nation, a migrant would have to apply from under one of the tiers that form the Points Based System (PBS). This system is very popular among leading industrialised nations as it allows customs officials to let in those people who have a genuine economic reason for migrating. This is done by awarding points to individuals based on their skill level. The more skills you have the more points you get and the easier it will be to migrate.

The top tiers of prized migrants are those who are highly skilled. Examples of this would be those who are business leaders, doctors, lawyers etc.

So will the system be scrapped

The coalition government has pledged to tighten up the current system of economic migration as it is the most obvious way push down levels of migration. The coalition government has suggested introducing a cap on migration for the forth coming year in April 2011. However, in the meantime it will be introducing temporary caps on some tiers.

Antonia Torr is a graduate from the University of Leicester, with a degree in Law with European Union Law. Having enjoyed writing from a young age, Antonia has received numerous awards that act as a testament to her quality of writing. Top rated Immigration Solicitors, please visit our website at