Significant changes loom large on the horizon for the UK’s immigration policies, spurred by the need to curtail the influx of migrants through legal channels. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak faces mounting pressure to tackle record net migration figures, particularly in skilled job categories.
Legal migration has wielded substantial influence in British politics for over a decade, culminating in the landmark 2016 decision to exit the European Union. With an impending election and the Labour Party leading in polls, Sunak is determined to assert control. However, these proposed measures have encountered criticism from businesses and trade unions, raising concerns about potential counterproductivity, especially in sectors grappling with labor shortages.
Recent data exposes a record annual net migration of 745,000 in 2022, with a notable shift in source countries from the EU to nations like India, Nigeria, and China. Sunak emphasizes the necessity for radical action, pledging to raise the minimum salary threshold for foreign skilled workers to £38,700 ($48,900), with exemptions for health and social workers.
Additional measures include restrictions on family members accompanying foreign health workers, a substantial increase in the health service surcharge, and an elevation of the minimum income requirement for family visas. However, concerns arise regarding potential disputes with businesses facing challenges in hiring due to a persistently tight labor market, exacerbated by the end of free movement from the EU since 2020.
Trade unions and business leaders express concerns, with UNISON’s general secretary, Christina McAnea, deeming it a “total disaster” for the health service. As debates intensify, the changes in immigration policy are poised to impact various sectors, prompting questions about their overall efficacy in addressing the challenges posed by record net migration figures.
As the UK tightens its grip on major visa routes, brace yourself for additional impactful changes expected to unfold in 2024.
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