Sanwar Ali: Latest Update on Boris Johnson UK visa policy

By Sanwar Ali

There are only a few days to go until the UK General Election on 12 December 2019.  There is continuing confusion over what is meant by a new “Australian style” points system, which apparently will be introduced some time in future by a Conservative Government.  Boris Johnson and other Tories such as Home Secretary Priti Patel mention this term quite a lot, which was probably picked because it is thought to be popular with voters.  However, it is misleading.  There is already an “Australian style” points system which was introduced by a Labour Government in 2008.  This does not seem to be a credible UK immigration policy after Brexit and any transitional period.

Currently it looks as if there will be a Conservative majority Government or a hung Parliament with the Conservatives having the most MPs.  Therefore Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party is likely to have the most influence in the new Government.   The latest details of the New UK visa system are as follows:

UK Exceptional Talent Visa

There is already the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa.  However, at the moment very few people qualify for this UK visa category.  Unless the proposed new scheme make it easier and faster this may not make much difference.  The current scheme is limited to 2,000 endorsements per year.  Like with the proposed new scheme, no job offer is required for the current UK visa category.

UK Skilled worker visa

We understand that the new visa scheme will be based on job offers and will eventually allow migrants to stay in the UK permanently.  How different will this be to the current Tier 2 Sponsor Licence and Tier 2 visa system?   The current system is very expensive. Many employers and visa migrants find it unaffordable.  Employing one person without family members can cost many thousands of pounds.  For a family of four the total Government fees can be more than £20,000.

Lower Skilled workers

Apparently there will be an entry route for lower or medium skilled workers.  However, it is intended that this will be temporary in nature.  There will be no route to permanent residence for such migrants.   Presumably many of these potential migrants will be very unhappy that they can only stay in the UK on a temporary basis.

Conservative Party claims of future reduction in Immigration

In view of the track record of successive Conservative Governments this cannot be taken too seriously.  While there may have been a reduction in EU migration and their family members since the EU Referendum, overall net migration has increased.  EU and EEA migrants may have been put off coming to the UK because of Brexit.  However, migration from other Countries increased.   The former Prime Minister David Cameron’s promise of net migration in the tens of thousands seems quite ridiculous now.  This was mentioned in the Conservative Party manifesto in 2010.

How different will the new UK Visa system be under next Conservative Government?

Information on the new UK visa system is incomplete.  A number of people have commented, that in many respects the new system may not be that different to the current system. Jonathan Portes, a Professor of economics at King’s College London and senior fellow at the research group UK in a Changing Europe had the following to say:

“It’s not radical. Most likely it will not look that different from what we have now.

“There’s a damaging misconception in this debate that there’s a binary divide between the brain surgeons and the people who pick strawberries – most ordinary immigrants are somewhere in between. Doing jobs that require skills but aren’t necessarily highly skilled, and they would not pass this particular test.

“Butchers, for example, or people who work in abattoirs – this is hard work and you need training. Most come from eastern Europe but are unlikely to make the highly skilled cut.”

The new Tory Party immigration policies seem to be somewhat vague.  There needs to be more details on exactly how the new system will differ from the current UK visa system.   It seems quite likely that there will be a Conservative Government.  Therefore, we may very well have an opportunity to see what happens in practice. 

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