From the Viewsroom

UK’s intriguing immigration rules

Dakshiani D Palicha | Updated on: Mar 04, 2020
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The points-based immigration system has thrown up new challenges

In a bid to address the question of ‘free movement’ after exiting the European Union, the UK recently announced a new points-based immigration system for both EU and non-EU workers. The move has been both hailed as a more relaxed version of the UK’s earlier, somewhat hostile immigration policy, and criticised as one that will allow only high-skilled workers the enter the country.

In countries like India, the new system has largely been met with cheer, especially by the STEM community, as applicants from these fields will be given higher priority. Another plus point is the revision of basic salary threshold from a high £30,000 to £25,600 per year for migrant workers, giving them a fair chance at finding work in the UK. The threshold can even be lowered in exchange for other ‘points’, such as a PhD. However, this cap is still considered quite high for some sectors.

The major issue of the new system, though, is that the condition stating workers must only be hired by approved employers who own a licence to sponsor migrants remains unchanged. This is a problem for two reasons: first, as before, it limits the number and types of jobs one can apply to. Second — and more importantly — now that even EU workers will come under the system, competition for the limited positions could get much tougher.

In fact, this condition even causes problems for UK businesses. Obtaining a licence to employ migrants does not come cheap (£1,476-fee plus additional charges up to £1,000 per year per sponsee) which means smaller businesses that cannot afford a licence, especially in industries like hospitality and retail which depend heavily on migrant employees, could be hard-pressed to find workers.

While the new immigration system does have its advantages, it may still need tweaks in the future, depending on how businesses and workers in the UK deal with the impact of the new rules, after they come into force in January 2021.

The writer is Sub Editor with BusinessLine


Published on March 04, 2020

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