<strong>SPEAKER&rsquo;S CORNER</strong><br />EDWARD WANAMBWA<br /><strong>PARTNER AT CM MURRAY LLP</strong><br /><br />SINCE the UK Border Agency introduced its points-based immigration system in late 2008, employment and immigration lawyers have got used to absorbing the almost weekly changes and &ldquo;fixes&rdquo;. Last month, further changes were made that are likely to have a significant impact on City employers and affect City recruitment.<br /><br />On one hand, there are two changes that &ldquo;tighten&rdquo; the rules. Firstly, migrants from outside the European Economic Area and Switzerland cannot use the intra company transfer (ICT) to directly replace a &ldquo;settled worker&rdquo;. Currently, multinational companies often use ICTs to transfer workers from overseas to work for a UK group company. Secondly, it has been clarified that where a migrant&rsquo;s job changes &ndash; eg through promotion &ndash; the employer has to issue a new Certificate of Sponsorship and the migrant worker must obtain fresh permission to remain in the UK.<br /><br />Other key changes &ldquo;relax&rdquo; the immigration rules. Firstly, the absurdity that City firms have to advertise senior roles with Jobcentre Plus has been ended, at least for certain positions with a salary over &pound;130,000.<br /><br />Secondly, a migrant&rsquo;s salary no longer has to be paid in the UK. Third, a temporary reduction in a migrant&rsquo;s salary and/or working hours to avoid redundancies under certain conditions will no longer require a change of employment action; and fourthly, increases in salary will not necessitate a change of employment action as long as this is not a result of promotion.<br /><br />What is the likely effect on City recruitment? Well, employers are likely to see a decline in the number of ICT transfers that are approved by the UK Border Agency. Indeed, the Migration Advisory Committee expects to see a fall of nearly 20,000 in the number of migrants who take up UK roles in 2009 under the tier of the immigration system that includes ICT transfers. Many City employers will be forced to find alternative ways of hiring migrants &ndash; eg, hiring migrants who qualify under the &ldquo;highly skilled worker&rdquo; category or, where this is not possible, accept defeat.<br /><br />Even though we have seen a slight relaxing of the rules around the edges, many City employers will still view the immigration rules as &ldquo;uncommercial&rdquo;, inflexible and too restrictive, as they seek to attract and retain talented employees from around the world.<br />