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Senior Carers in Immigration snakes and ladders | Immigration Matters

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Senior Carers and other migrant workers in the UK are increasing finding themselves in a Government-sponsored game of “Immigration Snakes and Ladders” – land on the wrong square and you go all the way back to square one, back to your own country where you started.

The recently introduced ‘transitional arrangements’ for Senior Carers by the Border and Immigration Agency (BIA), do not go far enough and will do little to prevent misery for thousands of overseas workers and their employers.

Under Immigration Minister Liam Byrne’s second policy change in six months, Work Permit holders can now switch jobs without meeting the new skills criteria, provided employers pay the “going rate” of £7.02 per hour.

Special 12 month extensions may now be granted for pre-2004 permit holders, without the minimum salary, an acknowledgment perhaps that changing the qualification period for ‘Indefinite Leave to Remain’ from 4 to 5 years in 2006 was unjust.

Immigration advisers Bison UK has been flooded with enquiries from Senior Carers desperate to transfer to any employer paying the going rate, just to avoid the drop when their Work Permits expire.

Manager Cynthia Barker said:

“In one case we had to find a job for a worker, with just 1 day left on her visa, and get the Work Permit and FLR forms signed and off to the BIA by close of play.

“Clients come to us because they know we can find the jobs, fast.”

Cynthia says she welcomes enquiries from employers in need of experienced staff and candidates in need of a job and Work Permit.

Unfortunately, the Government’s fudged measures have put migrant workers in a position where they have no choice but to ‘jump ship’ and switch employers to avoid deportation.

This mass reshuffle of staff is hardly good for the industry and will undoubtedly affect the continuity of care.

The dilemma faced by these beleaguered workers (those not in possession of a 5 year Work Permit) is if they remain loyal to their ‘below £7.02’ an hour employer, they could eventually be forced to leave the country like so many of their colleagues.

Worse still, any employer renewing a Work Permit from September, will have to do so under the Points-Based System, which heavily favours highly skilled and highly paid migrants.

Based on published information on the Australian-style immigration system, Senior Carers (and many other occupations) will not gain sufficient points to extend their stay.

The BIA has made it clear that approvals of new Senior Carer Work Permits will be “extremely rare”, and this is unlikely to alter under the tough new regime.

The BIA has promised to continue the current transitional arrangement until the introduction of Tier 2, but has not put in place any measures to help the many thousands of workers who will be renewing their Work Permits after the points system comes on line in a little over six months time.

Work Permit transitional measures must be extended beyond Points System.

As things stand any Work Permit holder (even those with a “going rate” employer) with less than 5 years’ visa stamped in their passport may be forced to change jobs before September in order to secure their stay until they eventually qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).

The BIA does not allow employers to renew Work Permits more than three months before expiry, so workers have no choice but to move jobs to obtain a longer permit.

Even those on a 5 year permit are not completely safe. Care Homes close down or change hands, workers can get sick and may be off work for an extended period or even lose their jobs.

No overseas worker is safe in the game of immigration ‘snakes and ladders’

Hundreds of Senior Carers refused extensions last year have been excluded from the transitional arrangement altogether simply because their applications were refused more than 28 days ago.

Is this a fair or humane way to treat migrant workers who have travelled thousands of miles to start a new life in Britain and, as Gwyneth Dunwoody MP put it, “do the jobs that Britons do not want to do”?

In other countries such as Canada, Australia and the USA skilled workers are welcomed with open arms and given permanent residency almost immediately or within a relatively short period time.

In the UK, our overseas workers jump from pillar to post, dodging bullets, praying that they will not land on the dreaded ‘snake’ square or face the ‘axe’ of yet another rule change.

Immigration Matters calls on Liam Byrne to stop trying to force out working migrants and instead take the following action:

  1. Ring fence all existing Work Permit holders from future policy changes
  2. Allow Senior Carers and other Work Permit holders to extend their visas regardless of the points system or
  3. Grant them the ‘Indefinite Leave to Remain’ which they would have obtained had the goal posts not been moved i.e. after four years continuous work.

Employers and Overseas Senior Carers need a period of stability and certainty.

If you have any views or need immigration advice

and would like a free consultation please email me at:

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Charles Kelly will be running an Advice Clinic at the Care Show, Bournemouth 1 and 2 April 2008

To book see:

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