Head Office:
5th Floor Maddox House, 1 Maddox Street, Mayfair, London, W1S 2PZ

All posts by Emily

Brexit heats up

In today’s blog post we will examine the potential impact of a UK exit on the UK economy. As the nation moves closer and closer to the EU referendum on the 23rd of June many are still unsure how they will vote. The question, “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?” will  be answered and will hold repercussions for generations. Those who want to leave the EU cite its costly membership, a lack of control over UK borders and what they see as increased power from Brussels as the main reasons for leaving the UK. However, those who believe the UK should remain a member believe that the trade benefits, the economic benefits of a strong workforce and that ‘going it alone’ are enough reasons to not leave.

However, what does a potential Brexit look like for the UK economy and what could be the consequences of doing so? The latest report conducted by PWC for the CBI claims that the UK economy would experience irreparable damage should the UK leave. The figures speak for themselves, a £100 billion loss by 2020 equating to a loss of 5% from the GDP with 950,000 jobs potentially lost. Household incomes could fall, on average, by £2,000 to £3,000 and the unemployment rate, currently the lowest in Europe, could rise from 5.% to 8%. Other organisations such as US investment banks JP Morgan and Citi have echoed the latest report which goes into greater detail than previous studies.

However, in a survey by Yougov which put the leave campaign 9 points clear of the remain campaign it appears that the public are increasingly, at the moment, drawn to the idea of  a Brexit. There was a 25 point shift believed that leaving would reduce the risk of terrorism to the UK and a 4 point shift in those who felt that the UK would have increased global influence. However, voters were more inclined to agree that a Brexit would most likely have a negative impact on the British economy.

It is not just the UK economy that would feel the effects of a Brexit. Since the financial crisis of 2008 the U.K. economy has been a huge source of job creation as the EU has struggled to recover. Not only has the UK economy provided jobs for its own citizens but also for hundreds of thousands of others across the 28-member bloc.

Economists believe that this influx has helped British economic growth and, ironically, added to the fears over immigration that form a key part of the leave campaign’s arguments. Whilst a lot of the focus has been the impact on the UK leaving the IMF warned that an exit would have severe consequences for Europe and the rest of the world.

Ultimately as the debate hots up, both those in favour and against leaving the EU will be stepping up their campaigns to influence the public.

Regardless of the outcome of the referendum one thing is clear. That the vote will be a generation defining moment for Britain’s relationship with the EU.

What are your thoughts? Vote on our survey and let us know your opinion! https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/GWRWH97

Westkin Associates

info@westkin.com

5th Floor, Maddox House,
1 Maddox Street
Mayfair
London
W1S 2PZ
United Kingdom
0207 118 4546

New spying powers

In today’s blog post we will be discussing the news that UK Border Agency Staff have been hacking into refugee’s, including asylum seekers, rape and torture victim’s, computers and phones. Since 2013 staff at the UK Border Agency have been given the powers to, not only to access computers and mobile phones, but to install listening devices in homes, cars or detention centres.

This shocking revelation has caused outrage among civil rights groups and campaigners for rape victims who see it as distressing that the UK government have handed out powers that target some of the most vulnerable in society.

Since 2013 immigration officials have been given the power to “property interference, including interference with equipment”,  this can include installing a listening device in a home, car or even detention centre and the hacking of phones or computers. Many fear that these powers could jeopardise lawyer-client confidentiality in potentially sensitive immigration and asylum cases.

These powers were granted through an amendment to the 1997 police act. Campaigners see the legislation governing such intrusive powers as out of touch and not fit for purpose. Many recognise that people in detention have the right to privacy and confidentiality when discussing potentially sensitive information such as details of rape, torture, domestic violence and abuse by officials with their lawyer.

The Home Office cite that the use of these extra powers is purely preventative and aims to give officers a full range of techniques and tools to deal with any immigration related issue. It added that the powers are only intended to be used to prevent or investigate serious crime relating to immigration.

Home Office officials have further confirmed that “equipment interference” had been used to prevent serious crime, including disrupting the supply of counterfeit travel documents, which could have been used to facilitate the smuggling of illegal migrants.

As concerns grow over the ‘Snooper’s Charter’ which would give police powers to hack into phone calls and monitor browsing histories, fears have increased over state surveillance and many are shocked with the government. The extension of police powers granted under the investigatory powers bill has been met with great criticism from surveillance campaigners, three parliamentary commissions and MPs.

With the Brexit debate in full swing immigration is once again dominating headlines. Many fear that important issues such as taxation, governance and security are being sidelined by immigration. Whilst those in favour of leaving the EU cite immigration as a key concern, others see the freedom of movement and right to work within other EU member states as ultimately the pay off for EU immigration.

The success of the spying powers in preventing serious crime relating to immigration remains unclear and critics are alarmed at what is seen as one more step towards the erosion of privacy within the UK. Vulnerable people who have little recourse to legal aid and assistance are placed in an even more difficult position as their safety and privacy is being undermined. The government ought to consider the human aspec

t of these new powers and not see such people as merely statistics instead of creating further difficulties that have to be overcome.

Westkin Associates

info@westkin.com

5th Floor, Maddox House,
1 Maddox Street
Mayfair
London
W1S 2PZ
United Kingdom
0207 118 4546

Home Office stats 2015

In today’s blog post we will continue with our latest entry into our ongoing serious exploring the latest Home Office immigration statistics.

Published quarterly, the Home Office statistics revel key information as to migration into and out of the United Kingdom. The figures are used to assess how current immigration policies are working, where immigrants are migrating from, the purpose of their visit (work/study/visit) as well as other important metrics. The information is also used to dictate new policies and to forecast trends in immigration.

With immigration playing a major role both within UK politics and on a wider scale within Europe and the EU referendum taking place on June the 23rd, the latest figures make interesting reading. It has been no secret that David Cameron and the Conservative government have sought to reduce net migration in the UK. However, with record net migration being measured it seems that the Conservative’s target of 100,000 net migrants is far from achievable.

Within this post we have divided the latest figures into three categories: Work, Study and Family visas. We hope that you enjoy our analysis and breakdown of the latest statistics

Work

Tier 1 Investor/Entrepreneur

Following the changes introduced in November 2014 there continues to be a drop in investor level visas. 2015 witnessed a decrease of 76% (2,287) in visas granted as well as a fewer grants to dependents.

Tier 2

There was a 2% (+1,365) increase in skilled work visas granted taking the figure up to 92,062 as well as a 2% increase in the Tier 5 Youth Mobility category rising to 44,948.

The top 5 nationalities accounted for over 3/4s of the total visas granted. Indians dominate with over 5 times as many visas granted (30,900) compared to the net country, USA, in second place (6,342). Australia, China and Japan followed with figures of 2,155, 1,826 and 1,792 respectably.

Within this category, the top 5 sectors accounted for 85% of the work force:

Information and communication 23,471, Professional, Scientific and Technical Activities 10,642, Financial and Insurance Activities 6,810, Human Health and Social Work Activities 3,513, Education 2,803.

Study

Compared to 2014 there was a 4% decrease in the number of student visas granted. The number of university sponsored applicants also fell, by a figure of 1% and there was a 7% increase in visas for students at Russell Group Universities.

The top 5 nationalities accounted for 55% of the 210,348 study visas granted in 2015, with the largest number going to Chinese nationals (70,754 or 34% of the total). There were higher numbers of study visas granted, excluding the unsponsored short-term student category (formerly known as ‘student visitors’) for Chinese (+6,153 or +10%) and Egyptian (+336; +26%) nationals; and fewer Libyan (-2,442; -66%), Iraqi (-2,384; -68%) and Brazilian (-1,925; -45%) nationals.

Family

There were 37,859 family-related visas granted in 2015. This is an increase of 9% compared with 2014 (34,876).

There was a 12% decrease in the number of visas granted to dependants (excluding visitor visas) joining or accompanying other migrants in the UK (68,699) compared with the previous 12 months (78,106).

There were 44,744 extensions of stay for family reasons in 2015. Of this total, 19,307 (43%) were granted under the Family Life (10-year) category and 25,378 (57%) were granted under the partner category.

Family-related grants to stay permanently (for settlement) fell by nearly a half (-49%) to 16,610 from the previous 12 months, continuing the downward trend since the year ending March 2010 (75,852). This reflects lower numbers granted family visas with a direct route to permanency and changes to the qualifying period for settlement. There were notable decreases in grants to partners (-50% to 14,053) in the last 12 months.

Nationalities with the highest number of visas granted for family reasons in 2015

Total Partners Children (1) Other dependants (2)
Family-related visas granted 37,859 29,577 3,089 5,193
of which:
Pakistan 5,474 5,096 60 318
India 3,676 3,302 329 45
United States 2,091 2,049 23 19
Syria 1,933 88 6 1,839
Bangladesh 1,867 1,778 55 34

Westkin Associates

info@westkin.com

5th Floor, Maddox House,
1 Maddox Street
Mayfair
London
W1S 2PZ
United Kingdom
0207 118 4546

Latest figures show rise in EU nationals working in the UK

In today’s blogpost we will comment on the latest rise in the number of EU nationals working in the United Kingdom. For the first time the number of EU workers in the UK has risen past the 2 million mark partially due to its enviable low unemployment rate.

Over the past year employment of UK workers increased 278,000 bringing the total in work number up to 28.8 million whilst the number of non-UK nationals increased by 254,000 raising the figure to 3.22 million. The latest figures will undoubtedly add more pressure to David Cameron as he seeks to lower the number of migrant workers within the UK.

On the back of a wave of anti-immigrant sentiment across Europe and the UK, Cameron has traveled to Brussels to try to renegotiate the UK’s role within Europe and is seeking greater control of the nation’s borders. Whilst the government are aiming to reduce both non-EU and EU migration, their proposed target of non-EU migration within the tens of thousands seems a distant pipe dream. Following on from consecutive quarterly increases in net migration figures public backlash has increased pressure on the government to reduce this figure.

Pay thresholds, English language tests and increased scrutiny of applications are some of the latest measures introduced by the government to try to achieve lower immigration targets however, restrictions across most immigration visa categories have proven to be ineffective as non EU migration continues to rise.

The latest efforts have been widely criticised as opponents have recognised that most immigrants are of working age, pay taxes, fulfill current shortage of occupation roles and add numerous cultural benefits to the UK. Others have seen the latest policies as unfair on those migrants who are based outside the EU and are being targeted as the government’s hands are effectively tied when dealing with EU migration into the UK.

Certain Tory party members have stated that migrants have been lured to Britain due to tax credits and benefits. However, research from the National Institute of Economic & Social Research shows that cutting the number of migrants into Britain would hurt the UK economically.

Other figures have showed that the number of people in work rose to a decade high of 31.42 million as wages increased slightly by 0.1% from 1.9% to 2.0%. However, analysts have suggested that UK productivity is still behind what it needs to be and that workers’ wages are not rising at an appropriate rate adding that low consumer price inflation is artificially protecting workers from increased costs of living.

With the EU referendum on the horizon talk shall no doubt increase over the UK’s role within the common market. As numerous arguments both for staying within or leaving the EU gather momentum, the topic of migration looks likely to dominate headlines for the foreseeable future.

What do you think of the latest figures? Is the government overbearing in its latest measures to restirct both EU and non EU migration? Leave your thoughts below.

Westkin Associates

info@westkin.com

5th Floor, Maddox House,
1 Maddox Street
Mayfair
London
W1S 2PZ
United Kingdom
0207 118 4546

United Kingdom’s EU exit prompts new visa suggestions

EU exit  could cut immigration by 100,000

A recent report by Migration Watch UK has suggested that Britain could cut immigration by 100,000 should it leave the EU through the restricting of EU nationals working rights in the UK. However, head of Britain Stronger in Europe accused the report by the anti-Europe watchdog as “disingenuous”.

The report further details how a ‘Brexit’ would effect immigration levels and expects that the numbers would reduce substantially. It is thought that if the UK were to leave the EU a skilled work visa system, similar to the current one that is applied to non-EEA nationals, would be implemented.

The report follows an intense 12 months where immigration has dominated headlines both within Britain and the wider continent as a whole. Shocking images of refugees from Northern Africa and the Middle East have provoked strong reactions at home and abroad. Opinions are strongly divided as to how to deal with the migrants and, after public pressure, the UK government agreed to accept more. However, others have criticised the government and fear that refugees would place added pressure on social infrastructure such as housing, education and healthcare.

Pressure is mounting on the government to reduce migration figures as record level net migration continued to grow. The government’s target of reducing net migration to the 10,000s looks a distant dream as the real figure is currently 336,000 and rising. The report outlines that an exit could reduce the number of EU migrants arriving from 180,000 to 65,000.

In a bid to reduce migration figures the Government has increasingly introduced harder measures for non-EEA nationals to come to the UK. Across most visa categories, be they for work, study or marriage, salary thresholds, language tests and additional requirements have been introduced. Critics have labelled the measures as restrictive and, in the case of the latest work related restrictions, potentially harmful to the UK economy.

The report focused mainly on discussing the changes to EU nationals looking to work within the UK after it claims that between 2004 – 2014 only 1 in 5 migrants undertook skilled work. The proposals only concern restricting EU national’s working rights in the UK and do not suggest creating visas for study or visiting the country. Those who would enter the UK as self-sufficient and looking for work would be given entry.

As the EU referendum beckons what remains clear is that immigration is likely to be a main topic of the debate. It is thought that, whilst the Pm wanted the referendum in 2017, that is looks probable to be conducted before the end of 2016.

Westkin Associates

info@westkin.com

5th Floor, Maddox House,
1 Maddox Street
Mayfair
London
W1S 2PZ
United Kingdom
0207 118 4546

Salary increase suggestions

Today (Tuesday 19th of January) the Migration Advisory Committee published its recommendations to restrict worker visa paths into the United Kingdom with the overall goal of reducing non-EU migration into the UK.

Within the current Tier 2 route the committee recommended that the Government introduce higher salary thresholds as well as prioritise higher value and skilled migrants within this visa category.

The Government the MAC to address what it saw as failings within the Tier 2 system and subsequently within the report addressed worries about the increasing number of migrants using the route and the effects on the domestic labour market.

Within the report the MAC decided that price would be the best mechanism to lower the amount of migrants using the route as well as more efficiently target the specialised skills that non EU migrants can bring to the UK. The report also claims that by using price as a tool to place further restrictions on migrant workers is a good way to confront the need to skill up the domestic market.

Further recommendations include introducing an Immigration Skills Charge for employers and tightening the Intra-Company Transfer route.

The level of pay is currently £20,800 which the committee recommend to raise to £30,000 which would better reflect the higher eligibility qualifications needed. For some migrants workers who receive lower pay, mostly those in the public sector, the report suggest a phrasal increase and that a lower threshold of £23,000 should be set for graduates.

According to the MAC’s analysis Tier 2 migrants works are usually paid more than their UK equivalents which would support the view that migrants on Tier 2 bring with them skills that are required and valuable to the UK. However, within certain professions migrant workers are not paid as much as their UK counterparts, mainly within the public sector, which is thought to be a reaction to certain financial pressures.

It is hoped that by implementing the suggestion of an Immigration Skills Charge UK, thus increasing the cost of employment, employers would reduce their reliance on migrant workers and reinvest in training domestic workers. The suggested cost of £1,000 per worker would bring in an estimated £250 million that could be used to fund skills.

In regards to the current Intra-Company transfer route, specifically designed to transfer highly skilled staff to the UK to impart their skills and experience, the committee made a number of suggestions. Often migrants are being used to service third party contracts and thus the route is being used in a way that it was not intended to be. By raising the salary threshold to £41,500 it is expected that loopholes will be closed thus deterring those who aim to abuse the system.

Whilst the recent recommendations may not come as a surprise to many, criticism has been levelled at what is seen as measures that will further complicate employing foreign nationals. The recent changes are part of a long line of salary based thresholds that seek to restrict migrants entering the UK. Previous changes have included setting a minimum earnings threshold for spouse visa applications as well as raising the threshold for migrants on tier 2 who want to apply for settlement in the UK.

How successful these measures will be remains to be seen, however what is clear is that for non EU migrants Britain is becoming an increasingly difficult country to enter.

Westkin Associates

info@westkin.com

5th Floor, Maddox House,
1 Maddox Street
Mayfair
London
W1S 2PZ
United Kingdom
0207 118 4546

Rethinking our policies

In today’s blogpost we shall examine the latest comments by the Confederation of British Industry in regards to the government’s handling of immigration which it sees as damaging to UK economic growth.

According to the confederation of British Industry (CBI) the current government needs to drastically rethink its immigration policy if the country’s economy is to grow. The CBI underlined the importance of the government’s need to rethink its current attitude towards both foreign workers and the current Tier 2 system.

The CBI director-general Carloyn Fairbarin underlines the importance of the UK’s access to talent and skills from outside of its borders. She further underlined the need of the UK government to increase the number of skilled workers and to attract more skilled workers into the UK saying, “We need to urgently to develop our own young people and at the same time we must also be open to talent from around the world.”

Immigration is a hot topic as Britain shapes up for a referendum that will decide its future within the EU. The polemic topic has dominated headlines across the UK and public opinion towards both economic migrants and those fleeing persecution is at an all-time low. General fears include the fear that the British workforce will suffer as a result of increased foreign labour and that businesses would be more inclined to employee foreign workers over their British counterparts. Additionally, many fear that migrants will abuse the welfare system of the UK and not contribute through paying taxes. Whilst Fairbaim recognised that the concerns of the public were real she also stated that, “well-funded health and education, road and rail services are far more beneficial to Britain than growing anti-immigration rhetoric.”

On the back of record consecutive rises of net immigration and a general anti-immigration sentiment the CBI feel that the current immigration policies are not fir for purpose and overlook real economic arguments that skilled immigration adds to the UK economy.

The CBI outlined three areas where it needs to facilitate immigration

International students. The UK needs to be more welcoming to what is one of its greatest industries. By attracting the brightest and best of international students it is hoped that this will encourage investment and that the students will then stay on after their education and work in Britain.

Simplify the process to set up business in the UK. By making it easier for international companies to move staff from around the world it is hoped that multinationals will want to bring their

Simplify the process for companies that want to recruit potential employees from outside of the EU. Currently, the tier 2 system has been criticised by various bodies as evidenced by the most recent criticism from the CBI.

Whilst the CBI recognised the need to attract highly skilled workers they also recognised the need to prioritise the home grown labour market. Within their recommendations the CBI believes that the current system needs to modernise, walk the line between preserving the resident labour market and making use of the array of talent that Britain attracts to its shores.

Westkin Associates

info@westkin.com

5th Floor, Maddox House,
1 Maddox Street
Mayfair
London
W1S 2PZ
United Kingdom
0207 118 4546

Current system not fit for purpose

In today’s blog post we shall examine the recent comments by the select committee on the current Tier 2 PBS system. MPs have labelled the current system as ‘not fit for purpose’ and have criticised the government’s cap on employing skilled workers from outside of the EU.

The Home Affairs Select Committee said that whilst the current scheme limits migration from outside of the EU, it actually stimulates migration from within. The government are under pressure to reduce net migration figures after the net number of migrants increased by 30% in the year ending June 2015. The latest figures are over three times that of the Prime Minister’s target of 100,000.

The current system allocates a cap of 20,700 Tier 2 visas per year for non-EU workers. However, MPs have cited that the limit was counter productive using the example of foreign nurses who have valid job offers but, however, are unable to work. As a result of the shortage of nurses, the government had to take emergency measure to allow additional nurses to be recruited. As such, the committee stated that the current system is not fit for purpose.

Currently, the Tier 2 system is being reviewed by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) which will report its findings and recommendation to the government. The MAC committee has been asked to comment, amongst other areas, specifically on how to focus on areas where there are skill shortages, how to limit the times sectors can remain on the shortage list and raising the minimum salary threshold.

Critics have criticised the decision to potentially raise the minimum salary fearing a rise in the cost of services, unnecessarily complicating the process and could discourage migrants and companies from doing business in the UK.

Across the board the government have stepped up measures to decrease net migration to the UK. Indeed, heading into 2016 immigration looks to be a key issue within the EU referendum debate as the government aim to renegotiate Britain’s position within the EU.  Clampdowns on student visas, increased restrictions for Tier 1 entrepreneur and Investor visas are all aprt of the government’s wider scheme to start making a dent in increasingly growing immigration numbers.

The key issue within the measures taken by the government revolve around EU and non EU migrants. Some feel that the government are overcompensating the inability to limit EU migration by making non-EU migration increasingly difficult. What remains to be seen is how the government can marry a pro-business outlook with an anti-immigration stance.

Are you affected by the current Tier 2 measures? How do you think the government should refine the system? Should the UK encourage further non EU migration? Let us know by leaving your thoughts below.

Westkin Associates

info@westkin.com

5th Floor, Maddox House,
1 Maddox Street
Mayfair
London
W1S 2PZ
United Kingdom
0207 118 4546

Australian report slams proposed changes to Tier 2 Visa

This blog post looks at old changes announced within immigration law. Take a look at our blog to read some more recent updates.

In today’s blog post we shall examine the recent Australian government report criticising proposed changes to the UK Tier 2 Visa. The Tier 2 visa is the main working visa category under which non-EEA nationals are able to work in the UK. Within the category there exists specialised visas for ministers of religion and sportspersons as well as other options that allow companies to transfer their employees to their UK company.

The year ending September 2015 saw a 7% increase in Tier 2 visas granted compared to the previous year taking the total number up to 92,859. The top five nationalities by application are as follows:

  • India
  • S.A
  • Australia
  • China
  • Japan

According to the report ordered by Australia’s High Commissioner to the UK, 60 per cent of UK businesses surveyed said that it would be less likely that they would hire Australian staff. News Corp said that the latest changes relating to Tier 2 visa category will restrict the right of the main applicant’s spouse to work which they fear would make it harder to transfer staff to the UK. The position was echoed by London Mayor Boris Johnson who said that he supported a firm but fair policy that would attract the World’s top talent to the UK.

The latest measures are part of a long line of increasingly strict immigration policies implemented by the UK government. As net migration reaches an all-time high and the issue of immigration dominates political discussion the UK government is desperate to appear tough on immigration. English language tests, additional supporting documents and changes to financial requirements form the latest measures that make the UK more and more difficult to enter.

However, the official economic watchdog has said that immigrants will play a vital role in the Chancellor’s economic predication of achieving a budget surplus of £10 billion by 2019-20. Marrying a tough stance on immigration with plans for economic growth appear to be a difficult line that the government will have to tread over the coming years should they want to meet their target.

Are you an Australian national? How do you feel about the latest proposals? As always, join in the discussion and leave a comment below.

Westkin Associates

info@westkin.com

5th Floor, Maddox House,
1 Maddox Street
Mayfair
London
W1S 2PZ
United Kingdom
0207 118 4546

High Migration linked to UK’s economic achievements

There have been many reports which positively link high net migration to the UK to its economic achievements, however recently this statement has received backing from the UK’s own independent Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR).

The report lead to the Chancellor, George Osborne’s, promise to be running a budget surplus by 2020. But while the Chancellor failed to address the logistics of how such a surplus could be achieved, the report released by the OBR seems to show that such a promise can only be achieved with the help of high net migration figures; revising their original figure of 105,000 expected migrants per year to 185,000. The report states that the economic growth will be directly related and unachievable without the help of high net migration figures, notably from those migrants who will be coming to the UK to join the workforce. Further had the figure remained at the original cited amount the impact upon the UK deficit would have been insignificant.

Such a report goes directly against the Government’s own policy to dramatically reduce net migration to ‘manageable levels’, whilst also contradicts the current trend of cracking down on the immigration routes still open to migrants hoping to reside and contribute to life in the UK.

It seems therefore that if such migration rates are to be met, so that the government can deliver on its budget promises, then arguably the government cannot rely solely upon EU migration of which it cannot control. Alternatively it could look to actively relax its current stance on skilled workers to the UK. Current and recent migration trends have seen a direct effort by the government to force down the amount of migrants coming to the UK to join its skilled workforce, as routes within this category are tightened up and overall made more difficult to enter. However if the OBR report is to be believed it is this route the UK government should be encouraging migrants to follow, if it is to meet its expected surplus by the end of the decade.

Predictably when confronted with the report’s findings the Chancellor denied that net migration was the only way in which to achieve his surplus promise, instead citing the government’s plans to focus on the skills of the settled workforce in order to achieve his goals. However despite the Chancellor’s response the message seems clear, net migration to the UK seems to be the most obvious key to the UK’s fiscal future.

Westkin Associates

info@westkin.com

5th Floor, Maddox House,
1 Maddox Street
Mayfair
London
W1S 2PZ
United Kingdom
0207 118 4546

Supreme court rules on English Language requirements

In today’s blog post we will cover the recent ruling by the supreme court in regards to English language requirements for spouse or civil partners of a British person or a settled person in the UK.

Since 2010 the spouse or civil partner of a British citizen or settled person have been required to fulfil an English language test as part of the visa requirements. Before this rule was introduced the spouse or civil partner had to show a similar level of English language ability after being in the country for two years.

Proof of the ability to meet the requirements of the English language test can be demonstrated in a variety of ways. Firstly, passing an approved English language test, a list of test centres can be found on the Home Office’s website, with at least a CEFR level of A1 in speaking and writing. Another method to meet the requirements is to have an academic qualification that was taught in English and recognised by UK NARIC as being the equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree. However, if you a national of certain countries you are exempt from having to meet the requirements, a full list can be found here.

The idea of introducing the requirement was to assist integration into British society, reduce the need for translators, improve employment chances and help to protect potentially vulnerable spouses.

However, recently the requirement has come into disrepute following the appeals of two British citizens whose husbands cannot speak English and are foreign nationals and want to join their wives in the UK. The women claimed that the requirements would violate their right to private and family life under article 8 of the European convention on Human rights. However, the Supreme Court categorically rejected that the rule did not infringe on their human rights. The Supreme Court did, however, recognise that in certain cases exemptions may be granted to the rule.

The development is interesting because it demonstrates that the supreme court recognises the rule as something that ultimately benefits the individual in assisting them in assimilating into the UK yet also gives space for discretion should the requirement come into dispute.

Ultimately, it seems that the rule exists for the benefit of both parties (the state and the migrant) and benefits both.  A similar rule exists for the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa (an investment route into the UK) where, amongst meeting other requirements, the applicant has to demonstrate a certain level of English. The level of English required however is much higher than that required for the spouse or civil partner visa.

Do you think that the Supreme Court made the correct decision? Should certain migrants have to meet certain language requirements?

Westkin Associates

info@westkin.com

5th Floor, Maddox House,
1 Maddox Street
Mayfair
London
W1S 2PZ
United Kingdom
0207 118 4546

Universities fear stricter controls

A recent survey with university Finance Directors conducted by Deloitte has revealed worries that government policy is hindering their ability to attract non-EU students and is keeping them up at night. 94% of those surveyed said that attracting foreign students was a top priority compared to 74% who identified the national market as a key area for growth. Equally evident was the view that the Home Office’s policies are deeply unpopular and damage UK universities’ ability to recruit foreign students.

With no fee cap for foreign students (currently there is a fee cap of £9,000 for UK nationals) many universities see foreign students as a vital source of income covering both rising staff and operational costs. Figures from the 2013 – 2014 academic year show that fee revenue increased 10% and the amount of foreign students studying in the UK increased by 1.7%.

It is thought that  tougher immigration policies mean that universities are struggling to attract foreign students. As a knock on effect universities are subsequently finding it hard to meet the financial demands required to attract top research talent. Amongst other new measures include a time limit of four months that recent non-EU graduates have in order to seek employment. Additionally, the job must pay over the threshold of £20,500.

Whilst over the academic year of 2013-2014 non-EU students increased to 179,390 universities fear that this number will drop once the full effects of new immigration policies come into play. The financial need for UK universities to enroll foreign students is becoming increasingly important. For the same time period non-EU students made up 44.5% of university funding compares to just 28.7% in the academic year 2008-2009. Currently, the UK is second only to the USA in attracting students to study at university level.

Whilst the number of foreign students enrolling in UK universities has remained broadly stagnant in the last few years, application to other English speaking countries have risen.  Australia, Canada and the US have seen rises with 14, 10  and 8% respectively.

Fears grow that the global reputation that the UK has for providing excellent further education will be tarnished as student are dissuaded from studying in the UK due to what is seen as unnecessary measures to curb immigration. The Home Office have cited the impact that immigration has on public services such as housing and health care as reasons to limit immigration to the UK. However, critics have argued that the majority of immigrants are usually of working age and are healthy and thus less likely to use the health service than an aging British population as well as paying taxes that cover the extra costs placed on social services.

Are you a foreign student in the UK? Are you put off from applying to study in the UK because of these new measures? Let us know by leaving a comment!

Westkin Associates

info@westkin.com

5th Floor, Maddox House,
1 Maddox Street
Mayfair
London
W1S 2PZ
United Kingdom
0207 118 4546

Moving towards the EU referendum

In today’s blogpost we shall examine the potential consequences that a UK exit from the EU would have on UK immigration within the EU. Greater democracy and transparency as well as increased economic sovereignty are but a few of the arguments cited in favour of leaving the union. Those against an EU exit fear the economic impact of job loses linked to the EU and the ease of freedom of movement ought to convince voters that the status quo should remain the same. Regardless of the side of the discussion fence that you may sit on, economics and freedom of movement are two key areas that are hotly contested as the debate starts to move into full swing.

It has been no secret that the EU and the UK seem to be on a collision course over the next year. Central to the UK government’s arguments about a changing role within the EU is the issue of migration. Across the summer violent images of desperate migrants entering the EU dominated headlines across Europe as the continent struggled to handle this latest wave of migration. Indeed, the issue of internal migration from within the EU has further added to the debate as net migration reached all-time record levels partially due to the number of EU citizens migrating to the UK.

Currently non-EEA applicants are subject to strict UK immigration rules and regulations in the areas of both work and personal immigration. Applicants often have to pass English language tests, meet certain points based criteria and provide proof that they meet the specific requirements of specific visas such as earning above a certain threshold. However, EEA applicants are not subject to any such requirements thus facilitating their ability to reside and work in the UK. As an EU member state the UK is powerless to enact such a policy that would restrict EU migration. However, those in favour of an EU exit believe that if the UK were to leave the EU then it would have greater power to control EU migration.

At what cost

Whilst leaving the EU is a big step into unknown territory one can look at the current EU wide policies that the UK would be exiting as an indicator as to how the UK’s relationship would potentially change. Currently the consequences of leaving the EU seem to raise more questions than answers and both sides of the debate are furiously attempting to outline their points. We have chosen three key areas that would be affected should the UK leave the EU

Migration – Inbound

It goes without saying that leaving the EU would give the UK more control over its immigration policy. It is thought that the UK could potentially look to target other similarly economically stable countries such as the USA and relax rules in order to attract greater business investment. Other possibilities include the creation of a commonwealth passport that would target Canada, Australia and New Zealand, again facilitating both personal and business immigration to the UK as well as forming immigration treaties with the original EU 15 nations. Of course, by leaving the EU the UK would no longer be obliged to allow EU citizens the freedoms to travel to and work in the UK without needed a specific visa.

 Migration – Outbound

Whilst the question of how inward immigration would be affected should the UK leave the EU has been raised it is important to draw attention of how UK migration to the EU may change. Much like our European cousins, UK citizens are able to reside and work within the EEA with virtually no restrictions. However, these benefits are almost certain to change. Britons would potentially face visa restrictions as the current fast track service would most likely be receded. With millions of Britons enjoying the benefits of working and holidaying in the EU it is certain that the impact of leaving the EU would massively restrict these benefits.

Loss of Trade

One of the key arguments for staying in the EU relates to the economic benefits that membership brings. Critics argue that leaving the EU would mean turning our back on one of the biggest trading partners in the world. Migrant workers both from the UK and from Europe would face added restrictions in moving between the two entities as trade and work restrictions may be enacted.  It is not only direct trade that would be affected. Being part of the EU means being part of one of the most powerful trading blocks in the world. The leverage that this brings means that the UK is, in theory, able to exert a greater influence as part of this trading group than if it were not.

Conclusion

Whilst it is difficult to fully outline the consequences of leaving the EU it is still possible to provide a rough outline as to the key advantages and disadvantages. Yes, the UK would have more power to control its own boarders and would not be subject to the current, centralised immigration policy, but at what cost? Economically speaking it remains unclear and both those in favour and against an EU exit outline interesting arguments. What does remain clear however, is that over the next year both sides will continue to build their points in the attempt to convince voters that their argument is the one to carry the UK forward sans or avec the EU.

Westkin Associates

info@westkin.com

5th Floor, Maddox House,
1 Maddox Street
Mayfair
London
W1S 2PZ
United Kingdom
0207 118 4546

Helping Migrants To Integrate In The UK – Advice From IPPR

In today’s blogpost we shall be examining the recent comments from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) and their recommendations on helping migrants to integrate in the UK.

The think tank has put forward suggestions to the government to assist areas that have experienced, and to prepare those areas that are expected to receive, high numbers of migrants. In a bid to assist the integration of the migrants in the larger community as a whole, the IPPR has suggested that additional financial support will help to alleviate tensions and increase community cohesion between various groups.

Other suggestions include local authorities taking a more active role in aiding integration through local activities, publishing more information on community life and holding more publicised citizenship ceremonies.

Fuelled by dangerous rhetoric from both the government and the media, public opinion on immigration has reached an all-time low. The migrant crisis of the summer drew the issue to the forefront of the public’s attention and led to pressure on the government to accept greater numbers of asylum seekers fleeing conflict, poverty and abuses in the Middle East. The government were quick to take a U-turn on their original quota and decided to accept up to 20,000 asylum seekers a year. However, critics cite Germany, who have agreed to accept 200,000 asylum seekers a year, as an example that the UK government’s increased efforts still fall well short of the mark.

According to the IPPR report, national and local government, communities and universities all have a role to play in assisting migrants to settle in their respective communities.  Local councils will be given discretion over how they prioritise and allocate funds from the newly formed Controlling Migration Fund.  Additional English language support for both schools and hospitals are two of the potential areas where these new funds could be allocated.

Local governments have been advised by the IPPR on strategies for informing central government in order to receive the necessary funding to support migrants. Greater planning, monitoring population trends and pre-empting the strain that an increased population will have on services and infrastructure are some of the suggestions that have been made. It is expected that 51% of the projected population growth of 10 million by 2039 will be due to net migration.

However, it is vital that those who emigrate to the UK understand the need to integrate within communities. Whilst the report cites correctly how institutions can assist transition to and integration in the UK, migrants have a responsibility to actively participate within community.

Whilst the issue of immigration certainly looks to dominate news headlines for the foreseeable future, a greater focus on integration of migrants would help to ease fears around immigration. By shifting the lens onto aiding integration one can hope that both existing and new communities can find common ground to grow and build relations. Tensions may always exist between different groups and, whilst additional funding will not be a magic wand, one would imagine that if used wisely it can lead to greater community cohesion.

Westkin Associates

info@westkin.com

5th Floor, Maddox House,
1 Maddox Street
Mayfair
London
W1S 2PZ
United Kingdom
0207 118 4546

Nurses added to shortage of occupation list

Today we shall cover the latest  changes relating to the U.K government’s shortage of occupation list and the temporary easing of restrictions that seek to attract non-EEA nurses. The move, which aims to aid recruitment of foreign nurses,  is designed to reduce the costly use of agency staffing.

Currently only specialist nurses working in neonatal intensive care units who earn over £16,271 are included on the list. The changes are expected to favour non-EEA nurses who seek to work in the U.K and who were previously excluded from working due to the high level of specialism needed to secure a job in the U.K.

In what is expected to increase the number of safe staffing levels across the entire N.H.S, the government will also attempt to limit processing times to around 70 days to combat the current shortage. In a dramatic U-turn that would have previously seen thousands of nurses who did not meet the qualifying salary of £35,000 (A senior nurse’s salary) be detained, the government is now actively seeking to attract more non-EEA nurses.

Despite the growing shortage of nurses the government have increased nurse training places by 14% which is expected lead to an increase of 23,000 extra nurses by 2019.

The current shortage of occupation list allows those who work in specific industries priority in regards obtaining work visas for the U.K. From geoscientists to chefs the extensive list is formed from a range of professions. Each profession is subject to earning a specific salary that equates to both their experience within their profession as well as their management level. For example, currently a nurse who is a specialist in neonatal intensive care is subject to a band three salary requirement of £16,271, rising up to a band 9 figure of £77,850 depending on their experience and management level.

Westkin Associates work closely with a range of businesses who hire foreign workers under the Tier 2(General) scheme. We have experience covering all aspects of employing foreign workers from acquiring the mandatory Tier 2 Sponsorship licence for companies as well as the tier 2 visa for their employees. We work closely with our clients ensuring that the application that they submit stands the highest probability of being granted saving our clients time, effort and offering them peace of mind that they application is in safe hands.

Westkin Associates

info@westkin.com

5th Floor, Maddox House,
1 Maddox Street
Mayfair
London
W1S 2PZ
United Kingdom
0207 118 4546

November changes to the Tier 2 Application process

Update: for the latest information on Tier 2 applications, read more here.

In November 2015, the U.K government will introduce changes to the application process for the Tier 2 visa application process with these changes coming into effect from the 12/11/2015. The reason for these changes is because the government are seeking to move away from physical application forms and will streamline the process by going digital. The new user friendly system is seen as easy to use and more straight forward than the previous process that it is replacing. See below the outline of changes:

Tier 2 Premium Service Customers (PSC)

  • The Tier 2 application form for PSC use only will be removed from www.gov.uk as well as the appointment booking function.
  • Following on from these functions being removed PSC customers will be able to submit applications and book appointments at www.gov.uk

Those who wish to reschedule their appointment, if it has been booked before the 12th of November, should continue to use their UKVI Apply Online account to do so.

Tier 2 Dependents 

Tier 2 will be removed from the Points Based System (PBS) dependent paper form. All Tier 2 dependent applications, from the 12th of November, will have to be done online at www.gov.uk

However, the PBS dependent form will continue to be on www.gov.uk for use by Tier 1 and Tier 5 applicants.

Westkin Associates

info@westkin.com

5th Floor, Maddox House,
1 Maddox Street
Mayfair
London
W1S 2PZ
United Kingdom
0207 118 4546

Lack of Tech Specialists prompts change in approach

In today’s blog post we shall comment and examine the recent decision by the U.K government to relax the visa requirements for non EEA national technology specialists.

This week the U.K government was under pressure from a large group comprised of start ups and established tech giants in regards to its immigration policy. Issues have arisen in regards to the perceived difficulties that companies in the tech industry have faced in contacting specialists who are non-EEA residents. The government intend to relax the requirements that said workforce are subjected to in order to facilitate and encourage the movement of these specialists into the country.

The scheme, that was set up two years ago, has attracted criticism from tech companies who claim that  the current immigration rules have stifled their ability to attract top global talent to work in the U.K. In response the government have decided to change the current requirements to remedy a sector that has huge potential for growth in the U.K

Tech City, the organisation funded by the tax payer to promote the U.K’s digital sector, cites that, whilst it has the capacity to grant 200 visas through this special route, it has only granted 17 out of the 19 application that it has received in the last year.

Four new measures will be introduced so that specialist tech non-EEA nationals can meet the requirement. Firstly, a fast track service for workers who are tasked with looking to expand their company through flotation on the stock market as well as those in certain fields such as online security.

Secondly, and for the first time, it will be possible to apply for the visa as part of a group. Additional changes include delving into even more specialist areas and looking to fill the shortages in these highly skilled, highly sought after areas. Finally, those applying to work in six government identified cities will be see their applications fast tracked.

The U.K government are keen to create a booming tech economy that is hoped to be the envy of the world stage. As such, the direct feedback received from the sector has created real and tangible changes that is hoped to be the kickstart the industry needs.

It is clear that the industry is crying out for a more relaxed approach to the current visa requirement and that the industry may have suffered as a result of the difficulties imposted by the Home Office. We welcome the decision to support an industry that is key to economic growth and that can create a lasting legacy of innovation and creativity across the country. Moving forward, the investment in this area could allow U.K nationals to learn from their foriegn counter parts and ‘skill up’ in the future.

Westkin Associates

info@westkin.com

5th Floor, Maddox House,
1 Maddox Street
Mayfair
London
W1S 2PZ
United Kingdom
0207 118 4546

Recent Changes Announced Within Immigration Law – 2015

This blog post from 2015 looks at old changes announced within immigration law. Take a look at our blog to read some more recent updates.

In today’s short blog entry we shall look at two key changes that have recently been announced.  The first change details 21 institutions who have been deemed to be fake by the India University Grants Commission (Part 1) This means that any higher learning institution in the United Kingdom  should be wary of accepting a degree conferred by these institutions. A detailed list can be found on the link provided. For more information into the requirements and duties of a Tier 4 sponsoring institution contact our team on info@westkin.com or via 0207 11184546.

The second change (Part 2) relates more broadly to migrants who are subject to an English language test. Basically, any applicant who undertook the IELTS test in the period where the SELT test was being introduced can use their IELTS test as evidence.

Westkin Associates

info@westkin.com

5th Floor, Maddox House,
1 Maddox Street
Mayfair
London
W1S 2PZ
United Kingdom
0207 118 4546

(Part 1) FOR THE ATTENTION OF ALL SPONSORS. The India governing body for higher education – University Grants Commission (UGC) – have declared 21 institutions as fake and not entitled to confer any degrees. Eight of the institutions are located in Uttar Pradesh, six are in Delhi, with one each in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, and West Bengal. Degree certificates issued by these universities can be considered non-genuine. An official notice, including a list of institutions, can be found on the UGC website – http://www.ugc.ac.in/ugc_notices.aspx?id=1093
(Part 2) FOR THE ATTENTION OF ALL SPONSORS: Anyone who took an IELTS test between the new SELT arrangements going live on 6 April 2015 and the first tests being taken on 23 April 2015 can submit this as evidence where a SELT is required. This arrangement will expire on 5 November 2015, in line with the transitional arrangements already published

The UK for your education

In today’s blog post we will examine why foreign students choose to study in the U.K as well as exploring the options that are available to international students looking to do so.

The United Kingdom has a long and established history of higher learning establishments. Indeed, within the top 5 oldest universities in continuous operation the U.K can boast of both Oxford (founded, depending on sources, between 1096-1197) and Cambridge (founded in 1209). If we look towards more modern times the United Kingdom’s educational presence on a world stage is as equally impressive as its past. According to The Times World University rankings, the U.K can be proud to have three out of the top 10 highest ranked universities in the World. You do not have to come to the U.K to study in a one of the top 5 universities however, as British universities are renound for producing a high calibre of graduates.

Where to study and why?

Whilst the capital city, London, is an obvious choice there exists a wealth of cultural and social events for students across the U.K. Throughtout the country there are many interesting and diverse cities each with their own unique offerings for potential students. Be they larger cities such as Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham or more quaint ones such as Canterbury or Exeter, the U.K has a large and varied range of potential locations. International student support on site is excellent and international students are encouraged to intergrate and mingle with their British counterparts. Socities and clubs offer students the chance to explore their interests and develop not only their academic skills but also their social skills. World class lecturers and facilities mean studying in the U.K prepares students with the necessary skills to succed in life.

Top 5 Nationalities

According to latest Home Office statistics, the top 5 nationalities for study related visas granted in the year ending June 2015 are as follows:

  • China
  • United States
  • India
  • Nigeria
  • Malaysia

The Home Office goes on to say:

The top 5 nationalities accounted for over half (53%) of all study visas granted in the year ending June 2015, with the largest number going to Chinese nationals (68,294 or 32% of the total). There were higher numbers of study visas granted (excluding student visitors) for Chinese (+6,802; +11%) and Malaysian (+690; +7%) nationals, and fewer Bangladeshi (-1,671; -52%), Indian (-1,251; -10%) and Pakistani (-981; -21%) nationals.

What does this mean for the U.K?

Whilst Britain continues to attract top international student prospects from around the World, recent changes to the visa application process and options available to students for once they have graduated are being tightened. Since the scrapping of the Post Study Work visa in 2012 criticisms have been leveled at the government that, in effective, Britain is training graduates without receiving the benefits of intergrating them into the wider economy. However, supporters have backed the move claiming that it stablises the job market for U.K graduates. Whilst the government has been battling bogus colleges by removing their sponsorship licences, many feel that the government are placing unnecessary hurdles in place for would be students.

What do you think of our blog? Are you an international student in the U.K? Why did you choose to study here? Let us know by leaving your thoughts below.

Westkin Associates

info@westkin.com

5th Floor, Maddox House,
1 Maddox Street
Mayfair
London
W1S 2PZ
United Kingdom
0207 118 4546

Time to open the doors | foreign business in the UK

In today’s blog post we will explore the role of foreign business within the United Kingdom and the contribution of non-EU workers to the U.K. In addition, we shall look at the current government policies and the impact they have on foreign investment and foreign workers entering the United Kingdom.

The tories are the party of business so they say. The chaperones of the SMEs that form the backbone of a resurgent British economy that can take centre stage in the world economy. However, it has been no secret that the current administration has been looking to reduce net migration to the U.K and immigration continues to be a key issue for many voters across the country. The question therefore arises, how does a pro-business, anti-immigration government affect and attract foreign workers and companies moving into the U.K?

According to Home Office minister James Brokenshire, ‘British businesses are overly reliant on foreign workers’.  Seamus Nevin, head of employment and skills policy at the Institute of Directors, sees this differently  saying:

“Other countries welcome top talent. Britain makes it difficult and artificially expensive for students to enter and stay, and now the minister has called for them to be ejected. The idea appears to be that rather than encouraging the best international talent to stay here we train them up and immediately kick them out, so it is our competitors who benefit. This is an abrupt departure from the government’s expressed claim to be ‘business friendly.’”

A surge of 269,000 EU citizens entering the UK in the last year has put pressure on the government to reduce migration numbers. Yet it is clear that neither the U.K Government, nor most governments in Europe, are able to control migration from within the EU as freedom of movement its one of the core tennants. This has lead to ministers looking to reform the EU directive and could potentially be attributed to the rise in recent anti-EU rhetoric.

According to the latest Home Office migration report:

There were 168,544 work-related visas granted in the year ending June 2015, up 6% (+9,313) compared with the previous year…

The number of non-UK nationals in employment in April to June 2015 was 3.2 million, up 257,000 (+9%) compared with the same quarter in 2014. The 257,000 increase was almost entirely accounted for by higher employment of EU nationals (up 250,000 or 14% to 2.0 million). There were increases in each of the EU14 (up 116,000 or +16% to 838,000), EU8 (up 100,000 or +12%, to 959,000) and EU2 (up 40,000 or +29%, to 178,000) groups.

The number of non-EU nationals in employment remained at 1.2 million (with a slight increase of 7,000 or +0.6%).

What can we take from these figures? Two key points. 1) That the rise in employment, which most likely has a postive impact on the economy, was fueled by EU nationals. 2) The number of non-EU nationals working in the U.K is roughly a third of the amount of EU-nationals. So whilst the government is happy to bemoan the amount of migration into the country, it is clear to see from the stastics the huge impact these migrants have economically speaking.

Of course foreign labour will have a direct impact on the number of U.K citizens working and these fears are not without justification but it is important to understand the positive impact that foreign workers can have on the U.K economy.

With EU migration being impossible to limit the government has sought to enact harsher restrictions for non-EU workers looking to come to the U.K. Increased minimum salaries, further PBS systems for Tier 2 applicants and an increase in requirements for both Tier 1 investor and Entrepreneur visas are the latest measures introduced to limit non-EU workers moving to the U.K. Coupled with a general apathy towards the ongoing humantiarian crisis in Europe the U.K government can be seen as rather isolationist in regards to migration.

Whilst the direct impact of these policies remains to be seen, a negative message is being broadcast to the world. Whilst it is obviously important to grow U.K businesses and provide for U.K workers, the U.K cannot exist in an isolationist vacauum. In an increasingly globalised world where foriegn investment is at an all important high the U.K government must be seen to be doing more to court potential investors from around the world. Not many people would disagree with limits to EU migration but it seems as if non-EU nationals, and businesses, are being punished due to it.

Westkin Associates

info@westkin.com

5th Floor, Maddox House,
1 Maddox Street
Mayfair
London
W1S 2PZ
United Kingdom
0207 118 4546

What do you think? As always leave a comment below and let us know!

Immigration Cases

What we're saying

@westkinlaw

Special Services

Book A Weekend Appointment Now

Weekend Services

 
Book A Same Day Appointment Now

Same Day Services

 

Premium Client Services

our high net worth immigration premium services

High Net Worth Individuals

 

our celebrity and public figure  immigration premium services

Public
Figures & Celebrities

 

our immigration services for sports people

Leading Sports Persons

 

our immigration services for businesses

International Business Persons

 

Looking to hire an immigration lawyer?
Book your free consultation