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Are UK Immigration Policies Damaging the Economy?

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 21 Apr 2018 | comments*Discuss
Immigration Economy Net Migration Cap

The coalition government is committed to reducing net migration - the difference between the number of immigrants and emigrants - to the UK. It has stated that it intends to cut net migration from “the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands” by the end of the current parliament.

The UK’s Government’s Policies on Immigration

One of the first major changes aimed at reducing immigration was implemented in April 2011, when the government's new annual immigration cap came into force. Under the new restrictions, employers may bring a maximum of 20,700 people, from outside of the EU, to work in skilled positions in the UK. In addition, a further 1,000 visas are made available annually to people of 'exceptional talent'.

How to Strengthen the UK Economy... By Reducing Immigration

The coalition has a stated aim of diversifying the UK economy away from financial services and towards science and high technology sectors. The government has also argued that talent is mobile, and that the best people will move to the location that offers them the most. However, this is usually argued in relation to discussions on higher tax rates and the financial sector.

The government maintains that it can help growth by reducing immigration. To this end a range of new measures has been designed by the Home Office to reduce annual net migration to below 100,000 by 2015. Since it is not possible for the UK to restrict EU migrants, the government focuses its efforts on reducing the number of non-EU migrants, including those from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa. Workers from EU countries are free to take any job in the UK and make up a third of all foreign-born workers in the country.

How to Damage the Economy... By Reducing Immigration

Business leaders are now questioning whether a cap on skilled non-EU workers is an appropriate response to public anxiety at the number of low-skilled EU workers in the UK - especially when highly skilled non-EU workers make up only a fraction of the total. Experts also believe that it is the workers of “exceptional talent”, fighting for the 1000 visas mentioned above, who could make the biggest contribution to science and the arts in the UK. Some of the very sectors that the government has said that it wants to encourage.

The Home Office intends to cut the number of non-EU economic migrants by introducing a cap on those earning less than a threshold salary level, set between £31,000 and £49,000 a year. Migrants earning below the stipulated salary level after five years will face statutory expulsion. The independent commission that advises ministers on immigration calculates that this policy would reduce the number of non-EU migrants and their families by 65% within five years and that the cost to growth in the UK would be equivalent to 0.29% of gross domestic product (GDP).

A group of prominent economists has urged George Osborne to fulfil his pro-growth agenda by modifying immigration curbs that rely on salary thresholds. In an open letter to the Financial Times, published in November 2011, they wrote that the policy would be “deeply damaging” to the competitiveness and growth of the UK. The letter said that the policy appeared almost to have been designed to deter the immigrants most wanted by the UK and to expel those the country would most like to stay. (Quasi-academic jobs in scientific research tend to be low paid, especially in comparison to jobs in the financial sector.) The letter pointed out that it was impossible to spot the future entrepreneurs and Nobel prize-winners after only a few years and that initial salary levels were no gauge of potential.

A Different Approach to the Economy and Immigration

The Westminster government’s immigration policies contrast with those of the, Scottish National party-led, government in Edinburgh. It wants to maintain Scotland’s recent population growth. Historically, emigration from Scotland exceeded immigration by a greater degree than in the rest of the UK. However, since the 2004 entry to the EU of several central and eastern European countries, Scotland has seen a greater number of immigrants than the rest of the UK. The Scottish government has declared an intention to both encourage Scots to remain within the country and to attract talented workers from the rest of the world. This is seen as vital to economic recovery and growth.

News that net migration into the UK has reached record levels may intensify pressure on the government to clamp down on foreigners entering Britain. Recent figures suggest that fewer Brits are emigrating; therefore, even harsher measures may be required to keep net migration within the UK government’s intended limits. Unless, that is, they decide that deterring skilled workers is not the best way of stimulating economic growth.

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Dear I was overstayed and deported from UK.I was entered as a student 2002 to 2005 for 3 years.I was unable to extension but I was worked and paid tax until 2007. When UK immigration police (2007) caught me andthey asked me why not you try to extension,now you back your country and again you will try for re-entry.So I need to know is it any kind of opportunity to re-entry to UK ,Why I am talking like because of I have work experiencedpaper and also tax paid document. Can you suggest me do have any opportunity for entry to UK .
Rahman - 21-Apr-18 @ 6:38 AM
Dear I was entered as a student visa at UK 2002 to 2005 for 3 years.But I was overstayed and worked part time.Paid tax.I been 5 years more. I been back from after 2 years ,means 2007 back from UK to my country.That was I was caught by immigration police and they told me why not apply for extension but I was totally lost my situation and they asked me you will out from this country ,later on you can try again for entry. so I back and now i think I would like to re-enter UK.I have a previous work experienced and tax paper.So i can get any opportunity for any kind rules that can be help for re-entry to UK.
Musfiq - 21-Apr-18 @ 6:31 AM
M&M - Your Question:
When I came to this Country, it was to marry my husband. My Visa was stamped Visitor. It wasn't until I married, I was told I, couldn't stay. Having given up everything in order to come here, I stayed. I have been here for 4 years. Is there anything I could do in order to stay without leaving my husband? My husband is now suffering many health and mental issues and to leave him, would not be good for him.

Our Response:
Every person who enters the country and/or applies for a visa is given the written terms of their visa. If you are an overstayer, then you face being automatically deported if found. Therefore, you would have to seek further guidance from a professional immigration adviser, please see link here .
AboutImmigration - 13-Nov-17 @ 11:27 AM
When I came to this Country, it was to marry my husband. My Visa was stamped Visitor. It wasn't until I married, I was told I, couldn't stay. Having given up everything in order to come here, I stayed. I have been here for 4 years. Is there anything I could do in order to stay without leaving my husband? My husband is now suffering many health and mental issues and to leave him, would not be good for him.
M&M - 12-Nov-17 @ 4:08 PM
We have a visa overstayers which is a criminal act however the home office does not want to act regarding the criminal offence because she has reapplied for another visa.This does not appear fair as she is a tenant in our property not paying rent and we are stuck with her until we can get her removed by eviction, and obviously she will not get a property by private rentals. The government and authorities do not appear to bother with criminal acts or want justice for the persons who pay their taxes but find it perfectly ok for them to yet have further costs when it comes to obtaining an eviction order. It appears those of us who abide by the law are treated as criminals as we are the ones paying for the wrongdoers, if I tried to evict this person who has committed the crime I would be the criminal and probably get arrested where is the justice for me there is none.
Tiny - 13-Sep-17 @ 11:44 AM
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