Comments by Sanwar Ali:
The Boris Johnson Government has launched a marketing campaign about the new UK visa system. Unfortunately, the new visa system has been criticised as being unable to fully deal with the skills needs of the UK economy. It remains very uncertain as to what will happen when there are farm worker and care worker shortages, due to the end of free movement of EU citizens into the UK from 1 January 2021. Will there then be yet another Boris Johnson u-turn that will allow "low skilled workers" into the UK?
Both businesses and the general public are also extremely worried about a possible no-deal Brexit. There is only about three months to go until the end of the Brexit transitional period. Many businesses will fail due to the economic effects of Coronavirus COVID-19. Yet more are likely to fail if there is a no-deal Brexit.
A marketing campaign has been launched to alert and prepare British businesses for the new, points-based post-Brexit UK immigration system, according to a press release published on the UK government’s official website. The press release claims that the ‘nationwide marketing campaign will ensure businesses are ready for the new system.’
It’s understood that the campaign will run throughout the autumn, utilising a range of channels to spread the message to UK employers, including digital, outdoor advertising, radio and social media.
The marketing campaign comes following a series of emails sent by the UK Visas and Immigration department of the Home Office, urging UK employers to apply for a Tier 2 sponsor licence, which will be needed to continue, or start, employing EU and non-EU workers in the post-Brexit era.
It will become difficult to hire newly arriving EU workers from 1 January 2021
The key message of the newly launched campaign will be that the way businesses hire from the EU is changing, and to hire from overseas, they must register for a sponsor licence.
Kevin Foster, the Minister for Future Borders and Immigration, said: “The new points-based system will be fairer and firmer, giving us control of our borders and treating people based on the skills they have to offer and the contribution they can make to the UK, not where they come from.”
“We will be able to decide who comes into the country, allowing us to prioritise and invest in those people already in the UK, upskilling our current work force, whilst also attracting the best and brightest from around the world to complement the skills we already have,” Mr Foster added.
According to the press release, the Home Office acknowledges that businesses must be prepared for the introduction of the new, points-based UK visa and immigration system. The press release states: “The Home Office is providing certainty and support on the system, now.”
Engagement events to spread Government message
Parallel to the nationwide marketing campaign, the press release states that the Home Office will run a ‘comprehensive programme of communications’, which will complement the ‘hundreds of engagement events’ that have already been hosted by the government department.
The press release states: “The government is working tirelessly to understand employers’ needs and encourage them to invest in the best home-grown talent alongside recruiting the best and brightest from abroad.”
“The new system has been designed with businesses in mind, treating people from every part of the world equally, welcoming them based on the skills they have to offer and how they will contribute to the UK, not where their passport comes from,” the press release adds.
Government claims easier for businesses to access talent
Despite the government championing the new system, saying it will ‘make it easier for British businesses to access overseas talent since details first emerged in late 2019, many employers have raised serious concerns over the post-Brexit immigration policy.
Meanwhile, the government’s so-called independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), recently urged the government to add more occupations to the country’s Tier 2 shortage occupation list for the post-Brexit era, including care workers, brick layers, butchers and welders, among others.
However, despite protestations and growing concerns as Brexit looms, the government’s press release insists that ‘it will be simpler for businesses to access the talent they need as the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) has been scrapped the skills and salary threshold have been lowered, and the cap on skilled workers has been suspended.’
“Additionally, ministers are reviewing the recommendations of the independent Migration Advisory Committee on the shortage occupation list, so that the government can work with sectors to fill roles quickly where shortages may occur.”
Immigration Health Surcharge
Amid the launch of the marketing campaign, businesses remain wary of government promises concerning the new immigration system. The controversial Immigration Health Surcharge, was supposed to end for NHS workers. However, it seems that you have to pay first and then ask for a refund at a later date.
Meanwhile, despite scrapping the RLMT, lowering the skills and salary threshold and suspending the Tier 2 visa cap, the Immigration Skills Charge – a fee payable for every overseas worker hired - will remain, with many business leaders fearing that they will be priced out of accessing the talent they need because of exorbitant fees.
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