With the United Kingdom set to go to the polls on Thursday, the Conservatives have set out their vision of UK immigration in a post-Brexit UK.
The public discourse on benefits of immigration to the UK is often misleading. For example, it is often claimed that free movement of European workers to the UK has resulted in housing shortages and a burden on the NHS. Sadly, this misrepresents the "impact" on the NHS of EEA nationals residing in the UK - the reality shows that EEA nationals are more likely to be working in the NHS than resident workers and, across the board, contribute more to the UK economy than they take out.
In what has been at times a very unedifying election campaign, the Conservatives have turned to immigration in the final days of the campaign. It would seem that voter concern over historic unregulated immigration to the UK is a topic which the party is looking to exploit for political gain.
Boris Johnson has provided additional detail of the much vaunted “Australian-style points-based system” which will have 3 tiers largely mirroring the existing points-based system. However, the additional detail is largely a wish list rather than firm criteria on which businesses and individuals can rely. The lack of clarity on the proposals has been criticised by industry bodies.
A category will exist to attract exceptional talent to the UK. Under this category successful applicants would not be required to hold a prior offer of employment for the UK. How this category will differ from the existing Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa is yet to be seen.
The proposals include a category providing for skilled workers with an offer of employment. Whilst there is no flesh on the bones, this would appear to be directly comparable to the existing Tier 2 Sponsored Skilled Worker category. It should be noted that the Government previously proposed lowering the skills threshold for Tier 2 to include lesser skilled roles, whether this represents a change to that policy or its implementation by other means (see below) we will need to wait and see.
Low Skilled Workers
There is a further proposal which would allow low skilled workers to enter the UK for short-term stay. Significantly, this category would not lead to settlement (permanent residence). There are comparisons from previous immigration categories, most notably the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme, and Tier 3 of the existing points based system which was never implemented due to the availability of labour from within the EEA.