The new post-Brexit immigration bill for the UK has received initial approval by Parliament.
The House of Commons approved the general principles of the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill 2019-21 at a second reading of the Bill on 18 May 2020.
The aim of the new legislation is to force EU and EEA citizens to meet the same requirements for a grant of entry clearance as third country national applicants. The idea is for all migrants to be ‘highly skilled’. To meet the threshold of a ‘highly skilled’ worker, the government will be introducing a new points-based system. Points will be awarded for knowledge of the English language to a certain standard, having a job offer from an approved employer (who will act as the sponsor) and meeting a minimum salary threshold of £25,600. Further points will be awarded for having certain professional qualifications where there is a shortage of a workforce in that profession in the UK.
There has been a backlash that many of the frontline workers would not meet the requirements of this new immigration bill and would not score enough points to be granted entry clearance. They would not fall into the category of ‘highly skilled workers’ as many do not earn the minimum amount required. Clearly the aim of the Home Secretary is to extract as much money in taxation as possible but this will be at a cost of a decreased NHS workforce and other frontline workers. Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said that the earnings of frontline workers do not reflect their contribution to society. This begs the question that if the requirements of this new immigration bill are not relaxed, will there be a decrease in the number of frontline workers? Had this bill received Royal Assent before the pandemic, with what frontline force would we have fought a global pandemic?
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for immigration in the frontline services and how a significant minority are not British citizens. Britain has literally needed immigrants to survive and many frontline immigrant workers have lost their lives during the pandemic. We will remember Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s address to the nation following his release from St Thomas’ Hospital after he contracted the virus, where he praised ‘Jenny from New Zealand’ and ‘Luis from Portugal’. They are but two of thousands of immigrants working for the NHS.
The government currently does not intend to relax the proposed rules, saying that it is needed as part of the recovery plans for the government to recoup the money it distributed during the pandemic. Home Secretary Priti Patel states: “We will no longer have the routes for cheap, low-skilled labour that obviously has dominated immigration and our labour market for far too long in this country”.
The next stage of the passing of the bill will be the Committee stage at the House of Commons on 9 June 2020.
For those clients who wish to enter the UK, we would advise that applications are submitted sooner rather than later to avoid having to meet the somewhat draconian requirements to be classified as a ‘highly skilled worker’.
To read the bill as it stands please click the link below: