Just days after the much talked about deportation of some Nigerians from Libya, reports have emerged that as from next month, all non- EU migrants living in the UK for less than 10 years will need to earn at least £35,000 a year to settle permanently in the UK or be forced to leave.
This new Home Office policy, which comes into force on April 6, applies to all overseas workers who have been in the UK for five years on a Tier 2 visa.
Some jobs, such as nurses, PhD-level jobs and any professions that have been on the official ‘shortage occupation list’ are exempt. However, Teachers, (unless they are professors in certain disciplines), IT professionals and Journalists could all be badly affected.
A petition to scrap the £35,000 threshold has attracted more than 100,000 signatures from British citizens and was debated in parliament on Monday.
But the government is adamant that the policy is fair, and that individuals have had many years to prepare. UK government believes that the reforms will only make a “modest” contribution to its target of reducing net migration.
The Home Office in its impact assessment, estimates the new salary threshold will cost the British economy between £181m and £171m (PDF), while the other organisations have put the cost much higher, at £761m (PDF).
Latest Home Office statistics show there were just over 55,000 applications for skilled work visas in the year to March 2015. Americans were among the largest groups – 12% of applications – while Australians made up a further 4%.
To settle in the UK as a skilled worker, non-EU migrants need to have a Tier 2 visa, which requires;
- An offer for a job in the UK that pays at least £20,800
- Have had at least £945 in your bank account for 90 days
- A certificate of sponsorship from your employer (which can cost between £536 and £1,476)
- To pay a £200 annual healthcare surcharge
- To prove your English language proficiency
After five years on this visa, skilled workers are able to apply for indefinite leave to remain.
But from 6 April, only those who earn £35,000 a year will be eligible to apply for “indefinite leave to remain” once they have lived in the Uk for five years.
Applying for “indefinite leave to remain” costs up to £1,900 and applications can take six months to process.
A Home Office spokesman said that in the past, it has been too easy for some businesses to bring in workers from overseas rather than to take the long-term decision to train the workforce in the UK.
He stressed the need to reduce the demand for migrant labour. Which is why the Migration Advisory Committee was commissioned to provide advice on significantly reducing economic migration from outside the EU.
These reforms, he said will ensure that businesses are able to attract the skilled migrants they need, but we also want them to get far better at recruiting and training UK workers first.