London Mayor Boris Johnson has strongly criticised his own party’s target to slash net immigration, claiming that visa policies were preventing the City and universities from recruiting the brightest talent, and were “a block to growth”.
The flamboyant Mayor joined the boss of the CBI employers’ organisation warning that Government policies are undermining the British economy.
Ahead of a visit to India, the second largest market after China for international students, Johnson said that visa policies were preventing the City and universities from recruiting the brightest talent, and were “a block to growth”.
This week CBI Director General John Cridland called on Prime Minister David Cameron to scrap the Tory target of cutting net immigration to “tens of thousands” by 2015.
The Financial Times (FT) claims that there are growing tensions within the cabinet, with Chancellor George Osborne and other MP’s calling on Home Secretary Theresa May, to streamline the bureaucratic UK visa system.
Cameron told his advisory group on Thursday he would address concerns that immigration controls were preventing the UK from recruiting enough graduate engineers from overseas
In an interview with the FT, Mr Cridland said the £15bn a year higher education market was being badly hit by the perception that Britain was no longer a welcoming destination.
“It’s partly a perception issue,” he said. “There’s just been so much rhetoric that it’s creating its own reality, it’s putting people off.” Potential migrants had read about the political debate in Britain and heard “war stories” of problems getting visas.
Mr Johnson echoed the industry leader’s comments in his customary forthright manner:
“We are losing a massive business opportunity here, which is completely crazy for the UK market – which is brilliant at higher education – to be closing itself off from some of the best and brightest students from around the world,” he told The Hindu Business Line.
Cridland said that the “tens of thousands” net migration target was at the heart of the problem, partly because ministers could not control the number of people leaving the country.
He added that the focus on international students and business people did not address aspects of migration that most concerned the public. “I don’t think this will ever be resolved until the government changes the target.”
Net migration stands at 216,000 and it seems increasingly unlikely that the Government have any hope of meeting their “tens of thousands” target by 2015.
Small businesses companies say they cannot cope with the bureaucracy now involved in bringing a non-European worker, as well as some EU workers such as Bulgarians and Romanians into the UK.
More worrying for universities and colleges are the latest figures which record a 21% fall in the number of student visas issued over the last year.
A defiant Immigration, Minister Mark Harper, said it was “wrong to suggest that controlling mass immigration does anything but help the economy”.
“We actively encourage the very brightest and the best migrants, but businesses must wean themselves off their addiction to immigration,” Source: Financial Times.
Many international students already in the UK are being shown the door by the UK Border Agency who are increasingly refusing student visa renewal applications (i.e. from students who want to continue studying and spending money in the UK) for any reason possible.
Appeals against refusals are rife, as students are forced to fight harsh decisions based on submitting one bank statement short of the requirement or being in the UK longer than 3 years.
Johnson has previously gone against the Tory party line on immigration by supporting an amnesty for illegal immigrants in London, pointing out that legalising undocumented workers and visa overstayers would bring in billions in tax revenues.
The Home Office has responded by abolishing the 14 year long stay residency rule and increasing enforcement on businesses employing visa overstayers and illegal workers.
If you have overstayed remember that each case is different and you should seek advice from a qualified immigration adviser who has dealt with applications from overstayers, ‘outside the rule’ cases and human rights appeal. If you in a relationship or have a child with an EEA national you may apply under more favourable EEA rules.
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