The Confederation of British Industry has expressed its concerns about the Coalition government's plans for a cap on immigration from non-EU countries, saying that it could undermine the ability of British businesses to operate in an international environment.

The new cap is due to come in next April and will supplement the Points System already put in place by the previous Labour government. The CBI said that keeping Britain "open for business" is essential for the economic recovery.

The CBI said that while it was not opposed to a cap on ideological grounds, the interim arrangements brought in ahead of the cap had "caused serious problems" for companies trying to extend the stay of and recruit staff members from overseas.

The CBI has said that under the cap skilled migrants with a job offer should be prioritised as they are able to contribute taxes while being relatively few in number. The ability of companies to transfer staff from one country to another also increase the attractiveness of Britain as a global location for investment to jobs, the CBI said.

However the CBI added that such transfers should only allow non-EU nationals to come to Britain on a temporary basis and not pave the way to permanent settlement.

John Cridland, Deputy Director-General of the CBI, said, "As the economy gears up for growth, the UK must demonstrate that it is open for business. Companies must be able to access the best and brightest talent from around the world.

"Interim arrangements are understandable to prevent a spike in applications ahead of the permanent cap. But the system is being poorly managed and proving a real headache for firms trying to keep on valued foreign members of staff, or recruit specialists from overseas.

"These problems are undermining confidence that the permanent cap will work. The migration system must support, not hamper growth. To do this, it should prioritise skilled workers with a job offer. This relatively small pool of workers doesn't just earn money and pay taxes here, but also keep major employers and projects here, supporting many more UK jobs."