Continued restrictions on employment of Bulgarian and Romanian nationals in the UK

Today the British government confirmed that restrictions on the number of Bulgarian and Romanian nationals allowed to work in the UK have been extended until the end of 2013.

Therefore, Romanian and Bulgarian (EU2) nationals will continue to require approval from UKBA before they can work in the UK.

Controls were put in place when these two countries first became members of the European Union in 2007, to restrict their nationals to either skilled jobs or roles in sectors where there is a shortage of UK labour.  However, under European Law, the restrictions cannot continue beyond the end of 2013.

Immigration Minister Damian Green said:

‘Maintaining these controls will make sure migration benefits the UK and does not adversely impact on our labour market. The government is radically reforming the immigration system, and has already announced an annual limit on work visas and tough new rules for students to ensure net migration is reduced from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands.

‘The Migration Advisory Committee has made a clear case for extending the existing restrictions on Bulgarians and Romanians. This government has also made clear that we will always introduce transitional controls on all new EU member states as a matter of course.’

A report from the independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) studied the impact on the domestic labour market if the transitional controls were removed. It found that lifting the current restrictions could cause more EU2 nationals to come to the UK to work, particularly in lower skilled occupations where there is greater risk of displacement of resident workers and a negative impact on wages.

Permission to work will normally be given only where the worker has a specific job offer and the work is in skilled employment for which the employer has been unable to find a suitably qualified resident worker. There are also quota-based arrangements for lower skilled jobs in the agricultural and food processing sectors which will stay at the same level for 2012 and 2013.

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