More than 1,600 IT specialists and engineers offered jobs in the UK were denied visas between December and March, BBC News has learned.
They were denied because the number applying exceeded the monthly limit allowed to enter the UK.
Critics argue that the immigration policy will hamper the government’s efforts to develop a high-tech economy.
The government said it was important that employers look to recruit from the UK before looking overseas.
The figures were obtained by the Campaign for Science and Engineering (Case).
Case’s executive director, Dr Sarah Main, said that job offers in areas where there were clear shortages, such as science and engineering, should be exempt from the Home Office cap.
“The tragedy is that this policy doesn’t work for anyone: the government, employers or the public,” she said.
“The government repeats its mantra that Britain should be open to the brightest and the best, and yet this policy specifically rejects those people.”
Between December 2017 and March 2018, the Home Office received an unexpectedly high volume of applications from employers who had offered jobs to non-EU workers.
The so-called Tier 2 visa system was introduced by Theresa May when she was home secretary as a means of capping the number of skilled workers from outside the European Union who had a job offer.
Their prospective employers had to demonstrate that they had not been able to find a suitable applicant in the UK. Until December 2017, the limit had been exceeded once in almost six years this was in June 2015 when 66 applications were refused for engineering roles.
The cap is set at 20,700 per year, with a monthly limit of about 1,600.
Home Office figures show that in December, January and February nearly half of all applicants were denied visas and in March the number of refusals exceeded 50% for the first time. (Excerpts from BBC)