Under the latest proposed Immigration Rules changes, the Home Office plan to abolish a rule that gives foreign workers the right to live permanently in Britain after working here for five years, according to a report in the Daily Mail this week.
Critics on the right point out that during the previous Labour Government’s last full year in power, 203,790 immigrants were granted British Citizenship.
It was the highest level since records began in 1962 and meant that more than 1.5million foreign nationals became British citizens under Labour.
To be fair to the previous government, the immigration system has for many years offered a ‘route to permanent residence’ (Indefinite Leave to Remain/ILR) and citizenship which meant that as long as somebody worked or lived here for four or five years and kept out of trouble, they would allowed to settle here permanently.
Towards the end of their administration Labour started to ‘get tough’ on immigration by coming up with the new concept of ‘earned citizenship’, which among other things meant that a migrant would only be able to obtain a British passport, after living legally in the UK for six years, provided they completed 50 hours of community service. If they did not, they had to wait for eight years.
Labour lost the election and the idea was ditched before it was even introduced, but had previously changed the qualification period for ILR from four to five years, introduced the Points Based System and brought in the ‘Life in the UK’ test.
Under the latest plans by the Conservative led coalition, the Home Office may abolish a rule that gives foreign workers the right to live permanently in Britain after working here for five years. Officials will also restrict the right of their family members to join them.
The government will also look at restricting the right of immigrants’ spouses to a British passport if they stay here long enough.
Foreigners will still be able to gain a visa to work in Britain but will no longer be able to stay simply by virtue of remaining legally for five years.
The policy will be based on introducing a new ‘hurdle’ for those who want to remain permanently.
A new test would be applied before a permanent right to remain is granted – based on immigrants’ ability to support themselves and their families, qualifications and whether they are working in professions where there are shortages of trained Britons able to fulfil the role.
Those on high incomes, businessmen and millionaire investors would be exempt because the government believes they create jobs. EU nationals who have a right to live in the UK, such as Polish, Bulgarians or Romanians, would not be affected.
Do the Tories have a realistic chance of cutting net migration – the number of people arriving in the country, versus those leaving?
Despite all the rhetoric, the reality of the task could be likened to attempting to change the direction of a super tanker going full steam ahead down the English channel.
The immediate target – one that will produce the ‘quick fix’ headline figures – will be foreign students on Tier 4 student visas and non-EU Tier 2 workers, which they will slash net migration to around 160,000 or 170,000. See: Students in the UK on temporary Tier 4 visas are not ‘migrants’
Some argue that only by breaking the link between people working here and remaining here permanently, will David Cameron will have any chance of reaching his net migration targets. Source: Daily Mail.
Hardly a week goes by without an announcement of yet another ‘crackdown on immigration’. More often than not, it’s the same re-hashed crackdown! The ‘route to citizenship’ closure has been banded about for the last couple of years.
In reality it will be difficult and unfair to deny residency rights to people already living in the UK for a number of years, especially those with ties such as children born in the UK. The Human Rights Act, which Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said is ‘here to stay’, would have to be torn up for a start.
There are also long stay concessions in place, such as the 10 and 14 year long stay rules, to deal with, not to mention the estimated 500,000-700,000 people living here illegally, which the think tank ippr said it will take 20 years and £5 billion to remove them – assuming they can be found.
In troubled economic times some have historically turned on immigrants as the source of their country’s woes, often with disastrous consequences.
Whilst a it’s easy to blame ‘those foreigners coming over here taking our jobs’ it should be remembered that the vast majority of those on work permits were brought here because the vacancy could not be filled from the ‘resident labour market’.
In other words, businesses, public services and employers needed foreign workers to expand and or maintain public sector services. Even now, with millions of people unemployed, healthcare workers are still needed in the UK.
According to a recent report on Student Visas by a Home Affairs Select Committee, ‘The international student market, estimated to be worth £40 billion to the UK economy is a significant growth market and the UK is the second most popular destination in the world for international students.’
In order to maintain this position the UK needs to start changing the perceived negative message that is going out around the world that ‘foreign students are no longer welcome’.
Whether or not the perception is based on fact, when it is actually relatively easy to obtain a Tier 4 student visa when compared to the US or Canada, is irrelevant.
Student agents are already reporting a downturn in demand and have started sending students to the obvious competitors such as Australia, but also to emerging providers like Bulgaria, Poland, Ukraine, Malaysia and India.
Meanwhile in the UK, dozens of private colleges are closing their doors every month under a tidal wave of pressure and what they see as unfair legislation. Apart from direct job losses and longer dole queues, ‘UK PLC’ is losing PAYE tax and NI revenue from the employer colleges, 20% VAT on fees, Corporation Tax, visa fees, Leave to Remain fees, CAS fees, registration and compliance fees and more.
In addition to jobs for university and college staff, foreign students also create a positive knock-on effect on secondary employment, for instance for suppliers to the educational industry, accreditation and awarding bodies.
The direct revenue from cash fees paid by international students also generates ‘export’ earnings in foreign exchange, rental income for accommodation, business rent and rates paid by landlords.
In short, the destruction of the private education industry will cost the UK billions of pounds and drive hundreds of thousands of international students into the welcoming arms of eager rivals.
Majestic College offer special packages for EU students. They also have a number of employers looking for staff right now and are willing to employ Bulgarians and Romanians.
For more information call Joanna on 0208 207 1020 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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