The 10 improvements Boris Johnson needs to make to UK immigration law now. A 2020 Immigration manifesto that both the Left and Right can support?
1. An immigration amnesty, allows for the backlog to met cleared out and to re-focus on new migrants.
The Prime Minister has previously expressed support for the idea of an Immigration Amnesty, reminding Parliament that there exists provisions already for those who remain in the UK for a period of 20 years without the correct permission to be in the UK. An Immigration Amnesty should have support of both the right and the left, it allows a number of people to regularise their status so they can leave the underground economy and commence paying taxes. It will also allow for the proper counting of numbers, an assessment of who amongst those who are undocumented have criminal records and of course which have families. Immigration Lawyers believe that Brexit is a good time to ‘reboot’ our immigration system to focus on new policies rather than chasing existing migrants through the United Kingdom.
2. To finally commence Tier 3, assuming we all remember what it is?
Tier 1, meets the needs of high value migrants who do not need to be sponsored, Tier 2 deals with workers who need to be sponsored, Tier 4 deals with sponsored students and Tier 5 with temporary workers and others. Tier 3, designed to allow for seasonal and low skilled work such as food preparation and farm work, has since its inception never been activated. This low paid work was often done by younger EU workers, who would often return when the season was over. If we expect less seasonal workers from the EU to dry up after Brexit then these businesses will need to recruit from somewhere and having Tier 3 active would meet this need. It doesn’t take an Immigration Solicitor to know that it makes more sense to activate Tier 3 than to pay £18 for a corn on the cob!
3. Ring-fence the current skills charge income to ensure British based staff are properly trained through the use of a training fund? Or….
Those businesses who hire foreign workers currently have to pay £1,000 per migrant they hire (on top of visa and other fees) ostensibly to offset the supposed ‘damage’ migrants to the prospects of young local staff who might have otherwise have been hired and trained up instead of a migrant worker being hired. This charge should be specifically pooled into a fund that targets training for workers in posts that are currently on the Shortage Occupation List. If this is known as the migrant fund – then employers will know there are funds (that came from migrant hiring firms) to train new staff. Or….
4. Simply state for each migrant hired, an apprentice needs to be hired
Much more simple and would clearly promote in clear terms the benefit to the UK economy both the effect of the skilled migrant, the UK company getting who it wants to trade in the UK (instead of going abroad) and the benefit to the UK local workforce, in terms of young people training alongside skilled migrants. Again, this should be welcomed by immigration lawyers and both left and right leaning observers.
5.Geographic Visa requirements – just in case the needs of London are different to the needs of Cornwall.
Amongst the innovations of the US visa system is the recognition that different parts of the country have different economic needs. Amongst their investment visas are requirements that migrants invest in parts of the countries that are deprived, rather than simply going to the more affluent parts of the country. The same should be adopted here. Real estate investments should be pushed away from London and instead targeted at areas where the investments would prevent properties having to be sold for £1 for example. The same for workers, Aberdeen will need skilled persons in Oil and Gas engineering to work in North Sea Oil projects, whilst London will need investment bankers and international trade lawyers for the foreseeable future – A smarter visa system will lead to a smarter economy.
6. Overseas students visa should also include 2 years to work in the UK after their studies end.
This would ensure that the government understands that often, the desire to travel to the UK for education means more than just studying. If someone wishes to study a course than naturally might fit into a work position, then there should be at least a 2 year period to ensure that the migrant can work, if they then are a good fit for the UK workforce, then they can go through the detailed work sponsorship route of Tier 2. At the moment the UK educates these individuals and they cannot work without sponsorship – and an employer is less likely to take a risk on a foreign student if they have no work experience, they then leave and the UK economy misses out of what a UK educated student might have been able to offer.
7. Give home office caseworkers and immigration judges wider discretion to refuse or grant human rights claims.
The current provisions that the Home Office put forward for migrants who have overstayed are contained in Rule EX1. They set out often arbitrary rules of who can stay (ie those who are 7 years old and lived in the UK for their entire life would qualify but those who have lived here for 6 years would not). A true assessment should be made with broad guidelines, a human touch can take into account a family’s difficult circumstances but equally take into account where circumstances of removal may not be that onerous. This should be welcomed by both those for and against immigration, as well as being welcomed by Immigration Law Firms.
8. Reduce appeal timescales.
Again a suggestion with hopefully ‘cross party support’. Applicant who have had a visa refused can often wait up to a year for an appeal as can those seeking asylum. Those ho support migrant’s rights will applaud any speeding up of appeals for those who might have applied to join a spouse in the UK and have to wait a year before they can get on with their lives, while those who oppose increased immigration can surely agree that an asylum seekers who has the right of appeal should have his appeal dealt with quickly, rather than hanging around for a year in the United Kingdom.
9. Increase funding for the Home Office – both those on right and left would want proper decision-making in place.
Immigration decisions both inside the UK and outside the UK are often rushed and so of poor quality. No immigration minister has ever declared the Home Office fit for purpose recently. Both the left and the right want these decisions to be made with enough time so they are high quality, and less likely to be appealed. More funding, means more staff, means more time to make high quality decisions.
10. Remove the ‘right to rent’ regulations – Landlords are not immigration officers!
Anyone whose main concern is securing our borders will not want to see immigration type decisions being made by Landlords, and the same is true for those who want to see migrant rights being maintained. The process was declared illegal as being discriminary and even the Landlords association confirmed that it didn’t want to be transformed into “untrained and unwilling border police”.
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