The number of UK certificates of sponsorship (CoS) issued to migrant health and social care workers hit a record high in the first quarter of 2021, according to new figures. The data, released by the Home Office, shows that 11,171 CoS were issued in the first quarter of the year, representing a sharp rise compared to figures in 2018 when just 3,370 were issued.
Nearly 40% of all UK skilled worker visa applications received in the first quarter of 2021 were made by people looking to work in the health and social work sector. The number of applications has risen by 19% compared to the same period two years earlier.
The figures show that the number of migrant healthcare visa holders in Britain is higher than at any other time since records began back in 2010. Meanwhile, the number of sponsor licences for healthcare visas plummeted to 280 during the first lockdown in 2020, but numbers have steadily risen since.
Other sectors see decline
Elsewhere, other industry sectors have seen a decline in the number of migrants employed. IT, education, finance, insurance, professional, scientific and technical sectors have all seen a slump in migrant hires, despite seeing a surge in the second half of 2020.
IT, in particular, has been hit hardest, with migrant employee numbers dropping well below pre-COVID levels. In the first quarter of 2020, 8,066 skilled work visas were issued across the IT sector. However, the latest data shows that just 3,720 were issued. Meanwhile, the number of migrant professionals such as scientists and technical workers has also declined.
Post-Brexit immigration system
The data released by the Home Office also gives a clear indication of how the UK’s post-Brexit immigration system will affect the number of EU citizens coming to Britain to work. According to the data, between 1 January and 31 March 2021, 1,075 long-term skilled worker visa applications were made – including the health and care visa.
The Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford said: “It is still too early to say what impact the post-Brexit immigration system will have on the numbers and characteristics of people coming to live or work in the UK.”
“So far, applications from EU citizens under the new system have been very low and represent just a few per cent of total demand for UK visas. However, it may take some time for potential applicants or their employers to become familiar with the new system and its requirements,” the Observatory added.
Meanwhile, the Home Office has issued a commitment to enable the legitimate movement of people and goods to support economic prosperity, while tackling illegal migration.
Outcome Delivery Plan
As part of the Home Office’s Outcome Delivery Plan for 2021, the agency has promised to ‘seize EU exit opportunities by creating the world’s most effective border to increase UK prosperity and enhance security’. The plan did acknowledge that the Home Office would see its income decline from UK visa fees as a result of reduced demand.
Meanwhile, the plan did reiterate the government’s aim to attract the ‘brightest and best talent’ to the UK.
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