Post-Brexit UK immigration bill shelved by government

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Sanwar Ali comment:

It seems especially after the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and the needs of the NHS, there will have to be a major review of the new UK visa points system.  Many lower skilled key workers that are needed now and in the future will not be able to come under the new UK points system.

Coronavirus has caused enormous damage to the UK economy and the World economy.  Suddenly ending free movement at the beginning of 2021 may very well do further harm to the economy, and cause skills shortages in the NHS. It may not be feasible anyway to reach a final agreement with the EU by the end of 2020. 

After causing fury for publishing guidance on the UK’s post-Brexit immigration system amid coronavirus, Priti Patel’s controversial bill has been shelved by the government. The bill, which seeks to limit UK entry for so-called, low-skilled migrants and formally end free movement, was pulled from a Commons order paper ahead of a second reading on 21 April.

The decision to shelve the Immigration Bill comes following a discussion among ministers last week, where they mulled over plans to delay the reading because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Leader of the Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg, confirmed that the government would not be introducing the Immigration Bill for debate on the scheduled date, making the announcement to just a handful of MPs in the House of Commons.

Decision to delay UK visa bill welcomed

The Liberal Democrats welcomed the decision to delay the reading of the bill. Christine Jardine, the party’s home affairs spokesperson, said: “I’m glad the government has listened to Liberal Democrat concerns and decided not to move the Immigration Bill on this occasion.

“Now Conservative ministers should use this delay to reconsider their destructive plans to end free movement.”

“The coronavirus crisis has highlighted the enormous contributions that workers from all over the world make to our NHS, social care and other essential services. They are protecting us and putting their lives on the line every single day,” Ms Jardine added.

Jardine went on to argue that ending free movement would make it more difficult for foreign doctors and nurses to work for the NHS, while charging them thousands of pounds in UK visa and immigration fees for the privilege.

The Lib Dem home affairs spokesperson also said that post-Brexit immigration restrictions will make it ‘practically impossible’ for private sector healthcare organisations to hire social workers from overseas.

New, UK points-based immigration system criticised

The new, points-based UK immigration system, scheduled to launch on 1 January, 2021 has been criticised for prioritising the salary of foreign workers over their skill levels.

Under the new system, any foreign worker earning less than £25,600 could be refused entry into the UK on a Tier 2 work visa, unless they can provide evidence that their job role is in high demand. Even if they can provide proof of this, a job offer is then needed from a UK employer with a valid Tier 2 sponsorship licence.

Will new visa system launch on 1 January, 2021?

While the new, points-based UK immigration is set to come into force on 1 January, 2021 the government’s decision to shelve Patel’s Immigration Bill has cast doubt on the launch date.

According to a report published in The New European, the new legislation was ‘supposed’ to come into action on New Year’s Day, 2021 as part of a Home Office ‘multi-year programme of change.’

However, many have urged the government to review the bill amid the invaluable contribution made by skilled and so-called, low-skilled migrants in the ongoing battle against coronavirus.

Following the shelving of the bill, the Home Office has so far offered no comment on its status.

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