The Conservative government is set to lower the salary threshold for some migrants in its overhaul of immigration laws post-Brexit.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that he wants to introduce an Australia-style, points-based immigration system to be used by both non-EU and EU citizens post-Brexit and once freedom of movement from the bloc has ended. Under current freedom of movement rules, EU and European Economic Area (EEA) citizens can come to live in the UK without restrictions, even if they do not have a job.
It had been discussed maintaining the current Tier 2 (general) visa requirement of having a job offer with a salary threshold of a minimum £30,000. Last month, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) advised the government to lower the threshold to £25,600, battein part to help recruit foreign teachers and NHS staff. However, there is already a lower salary threshold under the current Tier 2 system for jobs on the Shortage Occupation List, which includes nurses, some teachers, and engineers.
It would appear that the Conservative government has accepted the MAC’s advice, with Mr Johnson and Secretary of State for the Home Department Priti Patel expected to announce their immigration reforms on Friday to include lowering the salary threshold for some migrants. The BBC reports sources as saying that ministers plan to lower the salary to the advised £25,600. Workers earning less could earn “points” for qualifications or English language proficiency if applying for a role where there is a skills shortage.
Open borders-sceptic think tank Migration Watch UK warned that such a proposal would mean employers taking advantage of cheaper foreign labour without protecting British workers.
In a statement seen by Breitbart London, Chairman of Migration Watch UK Alp Mehmet said that “the reality is that the proposals would provide easy routes for employers to bring in unlimited numbers paying as little as £17,920 per year without even advertising jobs in the UK first”.
Report Backing Lower Salary Cap for Immigrants a ‘Dangerous Proposal’: Migration Watch UK https://t.co/1xXwLX8lkL
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 28, 2020
Mr Mehmet also criticised the plans for not including a key element of Australia’s immigration system: a total numbers cap.
“No mention of any limits or of any intention to reduce overall net migration. This is bad news for home-grown workers or of training our own, and hugely disappointing to the 30 million people who were looking for lower levels of immigration. There is little hope of this if such measures are introduced.
“The government has clearly caved into seductive pleas and huge pressure from employers who stand to benefit most from the continuing flow of cheaper labour,” the chairman said.
Office for National Statistics (ONS) statistics published last year revealed that in 2018, 602,000 people entered the UK. While 343,000 people emigrated, that left a net migration of more than a quarter of a million people (259,000).
The Tories had pledged in three consecutive election manifestos to reduce net migration from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands — promises they failed to keep on three occasions and which former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne admitted in 2017 that the government had no intention of fulfilling. However, in the December 2019 pledge, mention of a cap had been dropped altogether.
Speaking ahead of December’s election, Mr Mehmet told Breitbart London: “The Tories have frankly run scared of their previous commitments and promises that they would reduce immigration. ‘Get it down to tens of thousands’ they said, which frankly was not a bad objective.”
“They couldn’t do it, largely because they were afraid,” he added.
Boris Plan to Cut Wage Requirements Would Invite Unlimited Immigration, Think Tank Warns https://t.co/lkX78Eq8GT
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 23, 2020