HC Deb 22 March 1982 vol 20 cc243-4W
Mr. Arthur Lewis

asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether a work permit has been issued to Janet Johnstone, an American citizen, at present secretary of Amnesty International.

Mr. Waddington

Yes. On 2 June 1981 a short-term permit was issued in respect of temporary employment as acting director of the British section of Amnesty International.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will set out his criteria for the granting of work permits.

Mr. Waddington

In general, an application for a work permit is considered only if the vacancy is in an occupation serviced by the professional and executive recruitment service (PER) and with the exceptions referred to later, permits are available only for workers between 23 and 54 year of age in the following categories who can satisfy the Department of Employment that they possess the necessary qualifications and experience which should normally have been acquired outside the United Kingdom:

  1. (a) those holding recognised professional qualifications;
  2. (b) administrative and executive staff;
  3. (c) highly-qualified technicians having specialised experience;
  1. (d) other key workers with a high or scarce qualification in an industry or occupation requiring specific expert knowledge or skills.

The worker is also expected to have an adequate command of the English language.

The prospective employer must satisfy the Department of Employment that a genuine vacancy exists, that no suitable resident labour is available and that he has made adequate efforts to find a worker from that source and from the EEC.

Permits are available for entertainers and sportsmen, who meet the appropriate skills criteria. The lower age limit referred to above does not apply to these permits.

A permit may be issued to any person if in the opinion of the Secretary of State for Employment his employment is in the national interest.

Permits may be issued for on-the-job training or work experience with employers which can be put to use in the trainee's home country but not acquired there. This arrangement is primarily intended to benefit developing countries and their citizens. The training must be for a limited period, as far as possible agreed in advance, and extension of approval beyond one year is given only if satisfactory progress is being maintained.

Approval may also be given for employment in a supernumerary capacity, normally not lasting longer than a year, of young overseas nationals of non-EEC countries who come here to widen their occupational experience and in some cases also to improve their knowledge of English.

The overseas national is not allowed to remain here for ordinary employment at the end of the approved period of training or work experience. The age limits and the resident labour requirement referred to above do not apply to these permits. Overseas students who wish to take paid employment in their free time or during their vacations must first obtain the consent of the Department of Employment. Permission is given where there is no suitable resident labour available and the wages and conditions of employment are not less favourable than those obtaining in the area for similar work.

An overseas student is not entitled to remain in the country for employment on completion of his studies except that overseas student and pupil nurses and pupil midwives trained by NHS authorities and needed to meet their staffing requirements may be given permission to remain in employment as State registered nurses, State enrolled nurses or State certified midwives, provided no suitable resident labour is available. The lower age limit referred to above does not apply to nurses or midwives.

The holder of a work permit is not permanently restricted to the particular job for which the permit was issued but is expected to remain in the same occupation and required the consent of the Department of Employment for any change of job. A change will be approved only if the proposed employment would have satisfied the relevant conditions for the issue of a permit to a person overseas.