Government advisors back heavy cut in visa

Tough new limits stopping tens of thousands of students and skilled workers entering the UK were recommended yesterday by the Government's advisers on immigration.

The number of students will have to be more than halved and family visas will be cut by 20 per cent alongside a proposed reduction of between 6,300 and 12,600 in the number of non-EU migrant workers for 2011-12, the Migration Advisory Committee said. More than 87,000 student visas must go if those coming to study are to take their share of the cut needed to bring net migration down from 196,000 to the tens of thousands by 2015, said the independent body.

But opposition MPs and independent experts said the new figures left the Government facing an "unpalatable choice" between an immigration policy that will damage the economy or the possibility of failing to deliver a manifesto pledge.