A cap introduced on Tier 2 visas by the Home Office was reached for the first time in June, resulting in 1,329 visa applications being rejected.
A freedom of information request by technology publication Techworld showed that after the cap of 1,650 was hit, the UK authorities rejected applications for the first time since it was introduced in 2011.
A Tier 2 visa is applicable to people who have been offered a skilled job in the UK and are from outside the European Economic Area and Switzerland. Applicants must be sponsored and the work an applicant does must relate to the work of the sponsor organisation.
The visa allows skilled migrants to stay in the UK for up to five years.
The Home Affairs Committee, the public organisation that scrutinises Home Office activity, announced last week that it is launching an inquiry into the impact of the cap over concerns of how it bears on the UK economy.
Labour MP Keith Vaz, chair of the committee, said:
Reaching the cap limit for the first time last month sparked concerns of skills shortages across the health and care sectors, and among business leaders, particularly in the hospitality industry. It is totally unfair that only those with the highest salaries are granted visas once the cap is reached.
It is easy to see how this could impact on the services, sectors and small businesses who rely on skilled workers from abroad, and in the longer term impact on the economy. There are also serious concerns about the knock-on effect of the loss of the post-study work route.
When the policy was announced in 2011, the Confederation of British Industry was among those critical, saying as the government had limited control over EU migration, the government was “closing the door” to those outside the EU, which would deter inward investment and result in a loss of talent in the UK.
This comes after the government implemented a new student immigration policy whereby talented international students would have to leave the UK and apply for a visa before returning.