Despite the length of the Tories’ 13 July document on post-Brexit immigration rules, it does not significantly expand on the proposals released earlier this year.
It will be mandatory for visa applicants to speak English and have an offer of a job on an “eligible occupations” list, which will “earn” them 50 points.
There will be a £20,480 minimum salary requirement. Visa applicants will “earn” extra points if they have a job offer in a “shortage occupation”, hold a PhD relevant to the job in question, or earn more than the “general salary threshold” of £25,600.
Beyond January, there are plans to introduce an unsponsored route that would “allow a smaller number of the most highly skilled workers to come to the UK without a job offer”.
There was much fanfare around the unveiling of a new fast-track health and care visa with a reduced fee. This visa will be open to workers with a confirmed job offer in a “skilled” role within the NHS or care sector, or in NHS service provision. However, it will not be available to frontline care workers. Moreover, the minimum salary threshold would exclude many cleaners, porters, and other frontline support staff in the health and care sectors.
All foreign nationals in the UK who have been sentenced to a year or more in prison will be “considered for deportation”. Foreign nationals seeking entry to the UK may be refused if they have a custodial sentence of at least 12 months.
In most cases, recruitment of both EU and non-EU citizens will require a sponsor licence, with checks to ensure that sponsors are both genuine and solvent. Licence sponsors will have to demonstrate that the jobs offered are credible and, where applicable, meet skills and salary requirements.
Fundamentally, the scheme tilts the balance of power between worker and boss even further in the boss’s favour. When one’s ability to live in a country depends directly on an employer’s sponsorship, the employer can “tighten the screws” more easily.
The limited lowering of the minimum salary threshold for certain workers does not change how the overall scheme effectively turns free movement into a privilege for the rich. It should be a right for all.
• Abridged from the Labour Campaign for Free Movement website