Furor in Britain over Tier-2 Visa
January 20, 2010, 11:43 PM
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A furor is erupting in Britain over a new visa called the Tier 2 intra-company transfer. It's equivalent to the U.S. L-1 visa, which is also called an intra-company transfer. Both visas are almost identical in name, purpose, and the harmful effects it has on its citizens. The similarities between the two visas are no coincidence because world trade conferences and seminars are held to standardize visas and to harmonize immigration policies worldwide.

The similarities between the British Tier 2 and the American L-1 don't stop with just the name. They both have unlimited yearly caps (visas per year) and neither visa program protects native workers from salary stagnation or from being replaced by foreign guest workers. Call it conspiracy, globalism, harmonization, or coincidence but the UK Border Agency is equivalent to our USCIS, and the UK Home Office is sort of like our DHS.

The UK Border Agency made a Freudian slip on their website that seems to tacitly admit that they will give a wink and a nod to employers who use the visa to replace British workers. On their "How do I sponsor a migrant?" web page:

Additionally, any migrant entering the United Kingdom under the tier 2 - intra-company transfer category must not be directly replacing a settled worker.

Working for your organization for the past six months

You do not have to carry out a resident labour market test before sponsoring an intra-company transfer. However, a migrant coming to the United Kingdom on an intra-company transfer must have been working for your organization for at least six months directly before their transfer.

In order to understand the contradiction in that statement it's necessary to understand what a "labour market test" is. The UK Border Agency explains the test on a page that has has an Orwellian title that is almost funny because it's soooo not true: "Giving UK-based workers a better chance to find jobs".
In April 2009, the government tightened the resident labour market test, which prevents employers from offering skilled jobs to overseas workers unless workers living in the UK have had a chance to apply for them first. The test now requires employers to advertise these jobs in Jobcentre Plus offices for up to two weeks, as well as advertising them by another method set out in the codes of practice for their industrial sector.
So, the tests require employers to make attempts to find native workers before they can hire a foreign worker. Then why isn't one required for Tier 2 visas? That question is especially important since the same agency claims that the intra-company transfer "must not be directly replacing a settled worker". Claims that there are protections for British citizens is nothing but empty rhetoric — it's sort of like setting a speed limit for cars, and then announcing that police will not be able to use equipment to judge the speed of cars.

The British government likes to do studies, and once their studies are complete they are ignored by the policy makers that paid for them — another striking similarity to the U.S.

As an example, the UK Border Agency formed a group called the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC). They did research studies which came to preconceived conclusions that British immigration programs are A-OK. WHAT A SURPRISE!

In August 2009, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) published a report titled "Analysis of the Points Based System". In it Ron Hira, a well known expert on H-1B, offered his opinion on the efficacy of labour market tests:

The US H-1B route has been criticized for using attestation rather than certification. Hira (2007) argues that the attestation requirement for H-1B employers is not enforced and that firms are very rarely audited or investigated.
Attestation, which is a claim made by employers to make good faith efforts to hire domestic workers, is nothing but empty rhetoric. The advice that Hira and other experts gave the committee were ignored. Professor David Metcalf, who is Chair of the MAC, concluded in a press release that the visa program is working as it should, which disappointedly might actually be true! He said:
"In our first analysis of the PBS, the committee thinks that Tier 2 is working well, but our advice to the Government is that the labour market could be helped by requiring higher standards from skilled workers outside of the EU before we allow them to work in the UK. "We believe that selective immigration that favours skilled workers, as the PBS does, is vital to ensure that the UK continues to be a good place to do business or invest. "However, it is important that British workers are not displaced. We have therefore made a number of recommendations which will help to avoid undercutting and any disincentives to raise the skills of UK workers."
The same MAC press release reiterated Metcalf's statement:
The report’s main findings: The structure of Tier 2 is, as a whole, well designed for achieving its economic aims and for encouraging immigration to adjust to changing demand over the economic cycle. The MAC does not consider that it needs to be substantially revised in light of the recession.
MAC says one thing, but the British press gives a whole different story: Britain's Tier 2 visa is routinely used to replace British workers and to force wages down — and there is plenty of complaining going on by British labour (sorry but after awhile I get used to the English spelling!). Notice the similarity of the complaints seen in the U.S. media, and the callous responses from the British government are similar to the indifference of U.S. politicos.

Ousted IT blogger speaks out, January 19, 2010

I was happily working for a well-known UK insurance company until they outsourced their IT to a well-known Indian BPO provider. Usual story.

Adding insult to injury, my former colleagues and I were required to train our Indian replacements before being made redundant. I remember one as saying that it was 'rather like being forced to dig your own grave, kneel in front of it, then take a bullet in the back of the head...'. A tad over dramatic perhaps, but apt nonetheless.

Arrival of 30,000 migrant IT workers 'deprives Britons of jobs’, January 5, 2010
Tens of thousands of foreign IT workers are being sent to work for their companies’ subsidiaries in Britain, sparking fears that British workers are being denied job opportunities.

Almost 30,000 non-EU technology workers entered the country under so-called intra-company transfers last year, with the overwhelming majority coming from India.

Migration points 'need changes', January 5, 2010
An unlimited "intra-company" visa is used to replace British workers. The workers get angry

Lots of parallels with what’s going on in the US with L-1 visas - from the ways in which the visas are used to the political/policy response to the reaction from domestic workers. The comments from readers (sort by recommended) are quite interesting – very similar to US.

The UK’s Migration Advisory Committee recently made a favorable recommendation for the Indian firms on the intra-company transfers. I’m surprised that’s not described in the article.

Migration points 'need changes', 19 August 2009
Some 50,000 such workers are expected to arrive in the UK this year.

Nearly half of them come from India, but also significant numbers from the US and Australia.

Labour warned not to cut skilled migrant numbers, 19 August 2009
The UK must not make deep cuts in the number of skilled migrant workers coming from outside Europe to fill jobs here simply because of the turmoil in the labour market, government advisers have warned.