London, Nov 22 (IANS) Britain Thursday relaxed immigration rules for foreign professionals, entering the country via the 'Intra−Company Transfer' (ICT) route.
According to the changes to immigration rules included in a statement in the House of Commons by Home secretary Theresa May, the length of stay for professionals entering the ICT category has been extended from five years to nine years.
The step has been taken in response to Indian and other foreign companies' concerns.
Home Office figures show the ICT route is mostly used by Indian IT and other companies to transfer employees to their British offices from India.
The new facility will be extended to those employees who are paid 150,000 pounds (about $240,000) or more annually as salary.
It means the companies and manufacturers, who have told the government that they preferred to transfer senior staff to Britain for longer duration, will be able to do so, official sources said.
Immigration Minister Mark Harper said: "The UK is open for business to the brightest and best migrants and today's changes will ensure we remain an attractive destination for global talent".
"The government remains committed to supporting a private sector−led economic recovery.
"At the same time we continue to cut out abuse of the immigration system and remain focused on bringing net migration down from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands."
Other changes in immigration rules will allow skilled Indian and other non−EU workers the flexibility to travel in and out of the country, without it counting against them when it comes to applying for settlement in Britain, sources said.
From December, migrants could be absent from Britain for up 180 days annually without it affecting their application to stay permanently in Britain, provided it is required for a legitimate reason.
Other significant changes include lowering the English language requirement for entrepreneurs over concerns that the high requirement was a possible deterrent to potentially successful businesses.
Besides, foreign students in Britain will be restricted from switching to the entrepreneur category due to concerns about abuse, the sources added.