In order to stay in Britain for longer than six years under the Tier 2 visa scheme, non-European nationals working in the UK probably need to apply for indefinite leave to remain. To apply for permanent residence they will soon need to earn at least £35,000 annually (AUS$72,000 per year.) New visa rules affecting Tier 2 visa holders are being implemented beginning in April 2016, which will affect workers from outside the European Economic Area. Alongside Americans and Indians, Australians receive the most British work visas. Australians were granted 17,250 work visas in 2014; most came under the Tier 5 youth mobility scheme for those under 30 years of age instead of the Tier 2 visa scheme.
This change is intended to sever ties between working and staying permanently in Britain for those outside of the European Economic Zone. It is a result of Prime Minister Cameron's push to decrease migration numbers, and it is claimed will reduce the number of non-skilled migrants settling in Britain from approximately 60,000 to 20,000 annually.
British citizens, the Australian High Commission, British MPs, and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade voice concerns
Many British citizens also disagree with this visa restriction, saying that it is discriminatory against lower wage-earners, and started an online petition opposing the new UK Immigration requirements. The petition has accumulated over 100,000 signatures thus far. It will now be debated in Parliament.
The petition states, "This ridiculous measure is only going to affect 40,000 people who have already been living and working in the UK for 5 years, contributing to our culture and economy. It will drive more workers from the National Health Service program and people from their families. This empty gesture will barely affect the immigration statistics. It's a waste of time, money and lives." According to the Australian High Commission, these restrictions could potentially result in damage to bilateral relations between countries as well.
Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) also criticizes new Tier 2 visa rules
In addition to the petition, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) have raised concerns about the visa changes. The restrictions "had the potential to adversely effect both the commercial interests of both countries' businesses and investors, and consequently the economic interests of both Australia and UK", according to an Australian submission requesting a review of the changes made last year by the DFAT. The DFAT also said in December that these changes threaten to undermine the "unique bond" between the UK and Australia.
DFAT also claimed that Australians already faced discriminatory immigration policies in Britain. There was a complaint that Australians must return home to switch visas if hired by a British company. However, Australians come under the same immigration rules as do other non EU/EEA citizens. So in reality are not treated very differently to others. However, as many Australians are I the UK under the tier 5 Youth Mobility visa category Australians are more likely to be affected by the ban in switching from this visa category to say the Tier 2 visa scheme.
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