Australian lawyers looking to live and work in the UK are in for a tough time thanks to new restrictions on the recruitment of skilled workers from outside the European Union.
Legalweek.com reported that amongst the raft of changes to the immigration system, which will apply from April 2011, is the removal of the tier-one general category for highly-skilled workers, which has previously provided law firms with grounds to bring in new recruits from overseas.
Under the new restrictions, law firms will now have to apply under the tier-two general category for skilled workers, but recruitment will be limited under an annual migrant cap of 20,700.
This limit will even affect law firms with overseas associations and "best friend" relationships, with transfers between firms also subject to the cap.
However, the UK Government has not placed a limit on intra-company transfers for migrants earning over £40,000 ($65,000), and lawyers falling into this category will be allowed to move to the UK for a five-year period.
CMS Cameron McKenna UK head of business immigration Caron Pope told legalweek.com: "The scrapping of the tier-one general category will be especially significant since this was previously the preferred application route for overseas recruits, while the cap on migrants within the tier-two general will make it harder for law firms to plan their business."
PricewaterhouseCoopers Legal global immigration head Julia Onslow-Cole told legalweek.com: "As a general rule it will be more difficult for law firms to bring in people from overseas. However, in general the business sector is categorically welcoming the announcement, as it could have been a lot worse."