On 6th April the Immigration Rules were changed so that in order to obtain settlement in the UK a Tier 2 visa holder will need to earn £35000 a year. The policy has been put in to place in order to drive down the reliance of the UK on skilled labour from outside the UK, and to reduce the net migration figures. Why is this bad?
I'm not saying that aiming to have a well skilled, home grown workforce in the UK is a bad idea. But UK companies who want to grow need the skills now, not in 3 years when they have trained someone.
The rules don't take into account that different parts of the UK have different economies and therefore different salaries are paid for similar work; national companies may not, but small and medium businesses and start-ups, who are the firms who want to grow quickly, are going to.
It brings the worth of someone's job down to pure monetary terms. It suggests that someone working for a charity who is making a contribution to their community every day and who will never earn £35K is somehow worth less to the UK than a banker. Two extremes I know but you get the idea.
I think that the policy is very short-sighted. I can see how this it is likely to stop growth in firms. If you are a small business that needs skills in order to grow, but you operate in a part of the UK where the average wage is lower and the income of your business is lower and you pay your staff the going rate would you really want to try to employ someone with those skills? Someone, who in 5 years is going to have to earn more than £35K, (and let's face it that figure will increase), when none of your current staff are earning that amount. If you do employ that person you are eventually going to have to put up all your staff pay to ensure equality. Yes, you need the skills, but can you really afford to apply for a sponsor licence, pay a skills charge, and train someone up only to lose them at the end of 5 years?
On the flip side would you, when looking for employment, want to apply for something when you know at the end of 5 years your job is going to disappear and all the hard work and friends you have made while being integrated into the UK will be left behind when you return home.
This policy will also affect those who are already in the UK, who already have a contract with UK plc, working hard, integrating and generating growth in our economy. Yes, as an immigration lawyer I understand that no one who enters the UK has any expectation to stay here and that immigration rules can and do change but does the Government think that those who enter the UK understand this?
In addition if you look at the codes of practice issued by the Home Office the following jobs have salary rates for experienced staff that are below the £35K threshold:
- Civil engineers
- Production and process engineers
- Production managers and directors in construction
- Mechanical engineers
- Design and development engineers
There are others in the list and I don't say that every job that can come into the categories above can't result in a salary of £35k or over, but look at the job titles and ask yourself, do we really want the people in these types of jobs that clearly contribute to the UK leaving because they don't earn £35K or are they more important than that?
It seems to me at least that in the continuing drive to meet the net migration target the UK government is cutting off its nose to spite its face.
Now the selling bit, because I don't write these blogs just for fun. If you think you are going to be affected by this please speak to an immigration lawyer now. I can't guarantee that there will be another option for you but unless you seek advice you won't know.
Hopefully you would choose NLS Solicitors as a result of this blog and the fact we used a picture of a nose to promote it. You can contact us through our website , call us, email us or direct message me through Twitter (I follow back) or you could post a message on our Facebook page. But even if you don't contact NLS Solicitors speak to someone as there may be other options for you. The Government are probably not going to back down on this and you will be better prepared if you speak to someone now.
Photo by Elvert Barnes used under licence