GUEST COMMENT: The Government's restriction of Tier 1 visas has really started to bite

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Biting immigration restrictions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When the Government stopped issuing Tier 1 visas (previously known as the Highly Skilled Migrant Visa) I knew that it was going to effect the financial services IT recruitment market. At least half of the Java developers I had placed over the previous 12 months had either been on a Tier 1 visa, or had achieved UK residency following 5 years of living and working in this country.

The criteria to qualify for a Tier 1 visa were tough: you had to earn something like £40k in your own country, have a significant amount of cash in your bank account and have a specialist skill that the UK had indicated was lacking in the domestic labour market.

Initially, the elimination of Tier 1 visas didn't have much effect. However, we're now starting to feel the repercussions. The reality is that we genuinely don't

have enough homegrown computer scientists, software engineers and IT developers who can hit the high benchmark the UK financial services industry requires.

As a result, banks have begun competing for promising junior developers and starting salaries have been pushed up accordingly. At the same time, this restriction on supply has kept contractor rates artificially high for a recession.

The biggest loser from this policy of course has been UK HMRC. The financial services IT recruitment market is a truly global market, if the banks can't fill the positions in London they can turn to near and off-shoring to fill their teams, and that just means less jobs in the UK. One obvious beneficiary has been Ireland - the tech boom there is gathering more and more steam as smaller IT-dependent companies look to establish themselves elsewhere.

Martin Jee is a financial services recruiter who blogs here. 

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