Non-European migrants, who have been working in the UK for five years, will now have to earn over £35,000 per annum or face deportation after April 16, 2016, according to the new immigration policy announced by home secretary Theresa May.
The new policy will impact students, teachers, charity workers and other professionals who are either settled or planning to permanently settle in the UK after living here for five years.
“This (policy) unfairly discriminates against nurses, students and others who have been contributing to our culture,” says an online petition against the new rule. The petition claims it will affect more than 40,000 people who have been working in the UK for more than five years.
Though PhD students and scientists have been exempted from the list, students graduating from UK universities will now face difficulty in finding employment as most organisations may not like to offer salaries higher than the average UK annual income of about £26,000. Moreover, employers may not like to invest on a worker who would have to leave after five years.
After protests, the government has included nurses in the Shortage Occupation List and for the time being they are exempted from the rule.
According to the existing rule, immigrant workers who have been working in the UK for five years can naturally apply for permanent settlement and it would have been granted. Following recommendations of the Migration Advisory Committee, the government has set this new criterion where the person will now have to show an income of £35,000 per annum.
The government is yet to respond to the newly floated online petition, which has got more than 70,000 signatures. The government is bound to respond to such petitions on the UK Parliament website when it crosses 10,000 signatures.
“We reformed the immigration rules for migrant workers while continuing to welcome the brightest and the best,” Theresa May had told the parliament last October while referring to the changes. “Since 2010 we have worked to build an immigration system that works in the national interest.”
The ‘national interest’, the Home Secretary refers to, is to reduce the net migration rate. The increased income cap for settlement in the country is one of the several measures the Conservative government has taken in recent years.
UK is the first country to impose an economic benchmark for permanent settlement among prominent European countries which receive migrant workers in large numbers. In Germany and France, immigrants have to pass some tests but the length of stay is the main criterion for granting permanent settlement.
Experts feel this measure will not change the net migration level or the job market which the Conservatives are trying to secure for British nationals. The latest Migration Statistics Quarterly Report published in November, 2015 shows the non-EU nationals employed in the UK remained the same at 1.2 million. There was an increase in employment of British nationals by 122,000 and EU nationals by 324,000 compared to last year. Some sectors will lose talents and experts which is why many are angry at the decision.