Businesses use immigration loophole for cheap IT labour

Companies are using a loophole to bring people with IT skills in from outside the UK despite the high availability of UK workers, it was claimed today.

Companies are using a loophole to bring people with IT skills in from outside the UK despite the high availability of UK workers, it was claimed today.

Companies are using intra-company transfers to bring in staff to the UK from outside the EU without advertising the vacancies in the UK, claim recruitment companies.

The Association of Professional Staffing Companies (Apsco), which represents IT recruitment companies, has written to Phil Woolas, minister of state for borders and immigration, urging him to put a stop to the practice.

Ann Swain, CEO at Apsco, said there are enough workers available in the UK to fill the vast majority of vacancies.

"The government's supposedly tougher new immigration system has failed to significantly slow the influx of non-EU workers to the UK," she said. "This is because any company which has an office abroad can recruit overseas and simply ship workers across to the UK bypassing most of the checks on immigration.

"Workers coming to the UK on intra-company transfers are supposed to be paid the going market rate for the job, but this is very difficult for the Home Office to enforce, particularly with the volume of workers coming in. Companies are even allowed to pay these workers offshore in foreign currencies, so intra-company transfers are potentially very easy to exploit in order to bring cheap foreign labour into the UK."

According to data obtained by Apsco from the Home Office under the Freedom of Information Act, 35,430 non-EU IT workers came to work in the UK last year. This compared to 12,726 in during the dotcom boom in 2000.

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