Prime Minister to consider new measures in bid to cut demand for migrant labour

In an attempt to reduce migrant labour to the UK and give British people “the skills they need” to find jobs, Prime Minister Cameron has asked the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to look into ways of curbing non-EEA migrant labour.

The Migration Advisory Committee will advise on ways of boosting funding for UK apprenticeships and rising minimum salary thresholds for work visa applications as well as modifying the skills shortage criteria.

The government will require the MAC to look into re-structuring visa routes where skills shortages are genuinely required and ways of limiting the time that any sector is seen as being in shortage.

Mr Cameron’s government have suggested implementing a levy on Tier 2 visas. They argue that this could be used to fund apprenticeships, thus, helping British people.

If new proposals go ahead, there could also be restrictions on the automatic right to work of Tier 2 dependants and the Intra Company Transfer route could see the introduction of the Immigration Health Surcharge.

Prime Minister Cameron claims that “in the past, it has been too easy for businesses to recruit from overseas, undermining those who want to work hard and do the right thing”.


Information Commissioner’s Office demands Home Office reports on detention centres

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has asked for the Home Office to release potentially detrimental reports detailing the running of Harmondsworth and Colnbrook detention centres within a matter of weeks.

Despite government officials arguing that the confidential documents would harm both the commercial interests of contractors Serco and GEO Group and the Home Office’s power to negotiate with future contractors, the ICO stated that the public interest in transparency was vital.

Corporate Watch’s Phiil Miller, cited in The Guardian newspaper, described the ruling as landmark, sending “a strong signal to government to be far more transparent on outsource contracts. Home Office bureaucrats should not shield private security companies from public scrutiny”.

The ICO’s decision certainly reflects a widely-held view that the operation of Immigration Removal Centres (IRCs) is not up to scratch. Both media coverage and prison reports carried out by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons have contributed to the decision process, with the former revealing a disturbing increase in serious self-harm.

The government has yet to confirm whether it will appeal the decision, with both contractors also declining to comment at this stage. Watch this space…

Tier 2 General limit oversubscribed

For the first time since it’s introduction, the Tier 2 General limit (under the Restricted ‘quota’ system) has been oversubscribed, which has resulted in applications scoring less than 50 points being refused.

This means that in order to be successful, requests for Certificates of Sponsorship for June 2015 would have needed the vacancy:

  • to have been at PhD Level with the worker being paid at the ‘going rate’ for the vacancy in question (minimum £20,800); or
  • to have been at Shortage Occupational level with the worker being paid at the ‘going rate’ for the vacancy in question (minimum £20,800); or
  • To have been advertised (Resident Labour Market Test) with no resident worker meeting the mandatory requirements AND the worker being paid a minimum of £46,000.

Please note this does not relate to those migrants within the UK who are switching into Tier 2 General status (non restricted route).

Should you be affected by this or require any assistance with planning a Tier 2 (General) application don’t hesitate to contact us.

Prime Minister’s Questions reveals fresh immigration proposals

Net migration has reached a 10-year high of 318,000 this year, some 200,000 more than pledged by David Cameron in 2010. Despite many arguments suggesting the positive impact, both financially and socially of migration towards the UK, during Prime Minister’s Questions this week Mr Cameron announced a number of new plans to reduce net migration to the tens of thousands. These proposals included measures to raise minimum salary thresholds, limit the number of work permits and the introduction of new business levies for businesses employing migrant workers.

The government’s Migration Advisory Committee will take these proposals into consideration, which also not only aim to protect domestic workers from being undercut by migrant workers, but are also designed to boost apprenticeships. Mr Cameron, who chairs the Immigration Taskforce, has also elicited plans to rethink how long certain sectors can declare they have a skills shortage, as this enables employers in the particular sector to take on migrant workers.

Simon Walker, director general of the Institute of Directors and quoted in the Independent, has raised concerns over Mr Cameron’s proposals. Despite needing to attend to the public’s concern on immigration, Mr Walker states that employing migrant workers is purely a consequence of needing to find “people with the skills needed by employers”.

Mr Walker goes on to say that Mr Cameron is “absolutely right to focus on upskilling the domestic workforce, but there’s no quick fix.” It must nonetheless be taken into consideration that withdrawing skilled migrants from the workforce may have detrimental effects on the ever improving economy in the UK.

Comprehensive Sickness Insurance to Be Required For EEA Student Family Members

Currently, EEA students are required to hold Comprehensive Sickness Insurance (CSI) for themselves, but these Regulations do not include family members who are in the UK residing with them.

As of 6th April 2015, amendments were made to EEA Regulations and once implemented, students who have family members residing with them in the UK, will be required to also obtain CSI for each family member.

Due to operational reasons, students are not currently required to obtain CSI for their family members, however, this Regulation will be implemented as of 22nd June 2015.

This means that any application received on or after 22nd June 2015, will require CSI for any family members of students residing in the UK with them. If CSI cannot be evidenced, applications will be refused under Regulation 4.

Comment: Cameron’s Speech on Immigration Today

Following on from Prime Minister Cameron’s election victory, today he continued to express his determination to cut net migration to below 100,000 per annum at the Queen’s speech. This has come at a time when the Office for National Statistics has revealed that contrary to David Cameron’s ambitious target, in 2014 net migration rose to 318,000, increasing 52% from 2013.

Politicians use the rhetoric of “cuts, curbing and clamping down” but are these figures really as pejorative as they are made out to be? Should the UK be forcing hard-working, educated and skilled migrants out of the United Kingdom when it has been proven that there is a direct correlation between skilled migration and prosperity?

As professor Christian Dustmann from University College London once said, “Immigration to the UK since 2000 has been of substantial net fiscal benefit” due to the fact that migrants are statistically paying more taxes than they have received in benefits.

It is understandable that Prime Minister Cameron is under pressure from the growing anti-immigration rhetoric being expressed by other politicians and the public. Furthermore, too much of anything can lead to problems and this phrase could be applied to overspending, over-cutting and even over building. Too many migrants could arguably put a strain on the National Health Service, housing and welfare. However, net migration figures are too quick to point out who came and who left in a one size fits all ambiguous fashion. These statistics are not necessarily a direct reflection of what’s happening on the ground.

Currently students, temporary workers and asylum seekers residing in the UK for over a year are included within the net migration figures. These three categories could make up hundreds of thousands of individuals contained within the migration statistics. It may therefore be realistic to remove these temporary migrants from the figures.

Recent statistics have proven that international students are imperative to the success of the UK economy and our universities. Foreign students in London alone contribute to roughly £2.3 billion to the UK economy each year and universities would struggle without these students who effectively fund the excellent new facilities that can be found all around the country.

Skilled migrants under the Points Based System often apply under the Intra-company Transfer category which means that they may reside in the UK for a maximum of 5 years and have no entitlement to settle.

One could say that it is these hard-working, tax-paying temporary migrants who are being penalised, it is these migrants that are not being mentioned in the anti-immigration rhetoric.







Passport exit checks introduced at cross-Channel borders

On the 29th of March 2015, the Home Office announced that passport exit controls will be implemented as travellers are leaving the UK. The legislation is due to be phased in as of the 8th of April 2015 with it taking full effect by mid-June through the government working closely with airports, seaports and tunnels across Britain. The exit checks will enable data to be collected on every individual leaving the UK through to the requirement for each passport to be scanned. The government claim that these exit checks will provide the Home Office with crucial information aiding both the security services and helping keep track of immigration more efficiently.

The exit checks are said to effect cross-Channel and Channel tunnel borders more than airports due to most airlines already requiring passport information prior to travel. Prior to the 8th of April, travellers leaving the UK via cross-Channel routes were not subject to passport scrutiny by border control.  The Home Office claim that this legislation will strengthen Britain’s border security, ensuring that all passports are now fully verified. The new border controls are said to cause little disruption to travellers leaving the UK, however some fear that delays will occur during peak times of travel.

By Moira Rrodhe

5 days until NHS surcharge is introduced to migrants

On the 19th of March 2015, the Home Office announced that a health surcharge for non-EEA migrants and students, will come into force as of the 6th of April 2015. This surcharge will only apply to migrants entering the UK for a period in excess of 6 months. The health surcharge is set at £200 per year and £150 for students, with the payment being accumulated by the Home Office when an immigration application is made. Dependants will be charged the same amount as their main applicant unless stated otherwise under the legislation. The health surcharge is to be paid fully upfront in relation to the visa application, for example if a non-EEA migrant is applying for a 5 year visa, the surcharge will be £1000 in addition to all the visa fees. Certain exemptions are made regarding the payment, for example Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer migrants are not required to pay the surcharge and neither are those seeking asylum.

The Home Office claim that the NHS surcharge will grant temporary non-EEA migrants and students the same level of access to the NHS as permanent UK residents. The estimated NHS cost of the temporary non-EEA migrants and students is £950 million per year, therefore the government notes that this secondary legislation, under the Immigration Act 2014, will ensure that financial contributions to the NHS are being made to cover the treatment given to the temporary migrants.

The Home Office argue that the health surcharge levels are competitive in comparison to some of the UK’s competitor nations and represent a mere 1% of the total cost required for students studying for a three year, undergraduate degree. In addition, the cost will also be lower than that of the most basic private medical insurance in the UK and countries such as the USA and Australia.

By Moira Rrodhe

UK General Election 2015 – What do the political parties have to say about Immigration?

With only 37 days left until the UK general election, swing voters remain undecided over party manifestos on the NHS and immigration. Immigration has become one of the hot topics in the run up to the general election, perhaps fuelled by the rise of anti-immigration parties such as UKIP, who won seats in Clacton, Rochester and Strood.

As a result, it seems that party leaders have increasingly become torn between remaining faithful to their party line and pragmatically swaying towards public opinion. So what do political parties have to say about immigration?

Conservative Party

As part of its immigration manifesto, the Conservative Party claims that it will cut ‘benefit tourism’ and only welcome hard-workers who contribute to British society, thus, appealing to anti-EU voters.

The Conservatives have pledged to abolish ‘bogus colleges’ and clamp down on illegal immigration by curbing access to benefits, housing and healthcare. David Cameron also wants to introduce a new citizen test.

Pro-immigration voters such as Sir James Dyson argue that curbing migration would do more damage than good to the UK since there is shortage of skilled workers in certain sectors.

Labour Party

In its manifesto, the Labour Party states that Immigration is crucial for Britain’s future since the British public should be proud of being a diverse nation where migrants contribute to the UK, whether it’s in business, healthcare or education.

Whilst the current manifesto does seem to maintain a pro-immigration undertone, it also mentions phrases such as “controlled immigration” and like the Conservatives, the Labour Party have also pledged to introduce smarter control systems, toughen border controls and only hand out ‘earned’ entitlements.

Liberal Democrat Party

Similar to the Labour Party’s tougher line on Immigration, the Liberal Democrats claim that they will introduce a fair but firm system whilst still valuing the fact that Britain is open to the social and economic benefits that Immigrations brings.

The Liberal Democrats argue that Labour has let Britain down by allowing Immigration to get out of control and that control needs to be brought back by introducing exit checks and ending the detention of innocent children.

UK Independence Party (UKIP)

Well known for its hard line anti-EU stance, UKIP pledge to leave the EU. Under UKIP’s manifesto, migrants would need to support themselves financially through private housing, healthcare and education. UKIP would introduce time limited work permits and a points based system for all future migrants.

UKIP has been criticised for focusing primarily on immigration and its original founder, Alan Sked, is dubious of the party’s morals.

 Public Opinion

It seems that the overall level of understanding regarding the scale of immigration in the UK remains low. Ipsos MORI carried out a survey in 2014 asking the public what they thought the percentage of foreign-born individuals in the UK was. The general public guessed that an average of 31% of people living in the UK were not born here. The actual estimate was more along the lines of 13%. This highlights the fact that voters don’t always vote on what they believe to be true. Voters are also swayed by their family, community and local media’s opinion.



Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules Announced

With only a few months to go until the UK general election, the government have increasingly been taking a hard-line approach towards Immigration.

Yesterday, the Home Secretary published the latest Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules, laying emphasis on the government’s “tough” stance on immigration.

The lengthy 243 page document is longer than usual and here are just a few of the changes that will take effect within the next few months:

  • Caseworkers will be able to ask migrants present in the UK with limited leave to remain, to provide documentation and/or attend an interview in order to show that they are still complying with the Immigration Rules;
  • Minimum salary thresholds for Tier 2 migrants will be updated annually. There are already increases to the minimum required salaries under Tier 2;
  • The Tier 2 Codes of Practice that outline those jobs that meet the minimum standards for sponsorship, are being updated from April 2015;
  • In Tier 2 of the Points Based System, the Shortage Occupation list will be revised;
  • Potential Tier 1 (Investor) migrants will be required to open a regulated, UK investment account prior to making an initial application;
  • It will be obligatory for Tier 1 (Entrepreneurs) to pass a “genuine entrepreneur” test for extension and ILR applications;
  • Tier 1 (General) migrants will be restricted from switching into the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category;
  • The Home Office will update the list of approved English Language tests;
  • Changes will be made in relation to family and private life;
  • Visitor routes will be reduced from 15 down to 4 categories.

Minister of State, James Brokenshire argues that “The Immigration Act continues to prove itself as a radical new tool to tackle immigration abuse”.