-The U.K. set to change immigration system, but at what cost?
The U.K. government announced upcoming changes to the immigration system last week. The government is set to introduce a long-debated system to tackle the issue of immigration, one of the country’s most heated political issues, according to the recent announcement.
Undoubtedly, businesses and the U.K.’s labor force will be affected by the unveiling of the new points-based system for immigrants this week. The government argues it has fulfilled a long-held desire on the part of the British electorate to end freedom of movement, especially following the Brexit vote.
“Today is a historic moment for the whole country. We’re ending free movement, taking back control of our borders and delivering on the people’s priorities by introducing a new U.K. points-based immigration system, which will bring overall migration numbers down,” Home Secretary Priti Patel said last Wednesday.
The new system is set to deliver one of the biggest promises in controlling immigration. The U.K. has always benefited from being the epicenter of cultural diversity and innovation based on immigration. Now the question is whether this will now completely change, and if so, at what cost?
The new immigration system will bring an end to the freedom of movement between the U.K. and EU after Dec. 31, after which the U.K. will treat both EU and non-EU citizens equally although the new rules do not impact EU migrants currently in the U.K.
The new points-based system that will come into effect in January 2021 has three essential requirements, with the rest being desirable and interchangeable.
Applicants must speak English, have a job offer by an approved sponsor, and the job must be at an appropriate skill level. These three factors together give the migrant 50 of the 70 points needed to be able to come to the U.K.
The remaining points are awarded for qualifications such as those with PhDs, high-salary jobs, and those who work in sectors with labor shortages.
The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), a progressive think tank, said their analysis of government data found that “69% of EU migrants currently working in the U.K. would be ineligible for a skilled work visa.”
Furthermore, the business sector is not happy with the changes.
The Head of the National Farmers Union, Minette Batters, said: “As the U.K.’s largest manufacturing sector, British food and farming is at the very core of our economy and any immigration policy must deliver for its needs.
“We have said repeatedly that for farm businesses it is about having the full range of skills needed – from pickers and packers to meat processors and vets – if we are to continue to deliver high quality, affordable food for the public. Failure to provide an entry route for these jobs will severely impact the farming sector.”
British Chambers of Commerce Director General Adam Marshall said that “critical labor shortages mean firms will still need access to overseas workers at all skill levels… The application process must be radically simplified.”