Don’t Bite the Hand that Feeds You

Because you might just need that hand to rebuild ‘Broken Britain’.

Coming to the UK can be a great upheaval journey for most foreign workers. We all have experienced it one way or the other. Some of us who haven’t experienced it may have seen the TV programme ‘Wanted Down Under’ where families considering a move to Australia are given a taste of what it would be like. Imagine that for a moment then think about how much stress and strain the move would have caused you and your family. You settle down, make a life for yourself and your family, supporting and contributing to the society in which you have made your home. Then 5 years down the line, the government pulls the rug out from under your feet. “What the .…” is probably how some may choose to express the unfairness of it. Highly skilled foreign workers in such a situation must feel used. How long do you think they would let Britain use them?

Many of you will have heard the phrase ‘Broken Britain’ bandied about in the media and by the Conservative Party and may have wondered what it meant? It means Britain is in a perceived state of social and economic decay and now do you know what the first rule of social and economic improvement is? – supply and demand. You create the opportunity for the best foreign talents to help improve the economy, give them some of the good stuff Britain has to offer and make them want more so that they remain committed and loyal to Britain. But the moment you take away the opportunities and the safety net they have built for themselves and their families in the UK, you get the type of headline grabbing news “Migrant Salary Rules May Cost NHS Nurse Jobs”, and the situation spirals out of control with uncertainty for themselves and their families.

From 6th of April 2016, the Secretary of State intends to apply a payment requirement for those, under the Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (Sportspersons) visa categories, who intend to apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR). ILR is a settlement route to naturalising as a British citizen. The reasoning behind this is to break the link to British citizenship that currently exists for foreign workers who arrived prior to 6th of April 2011 and who will meet the 5 years continuous lawful residence requirement. The Secretary of State seems to think that it is fair game to use highly skilled foreign workers to help improve the British economy and yet simultaneously deny them the opportunity to settle and have a secure family life in Britain.

The cut-off point for the payment requirement is 6th of April 2011. Those who were granted leave under the applicable Tier 2 category before this date can settle after 5 years of continuous lawful residence subject to meeting all the other requirements. Those who were granted leave after this date will only be eligible to apply for settlement after 5 years if they meet certain relevant requirements or earn a minimum sum. The minimum sum applying on or after 6th of April 2016, 2018, 2019 and 2020 are £35,000, £35,500, £35,800 and £36,200, respectively. Those not meeting the requirements will only be able to spend a maximum of 6 years in the UK and they will not be allowed to return to the UK under Tier 2 for a minimum period of 12 months.

In my opinion, social and economic success is measured in terms of how effectively the economy delivers what businesses and people need, particularly those things that matter and more importantly whether the delivery is fair, resilient and sustainable. Highly skilled foreign workers contribute substantially to the British economy. Any rule or policy which appears to undermine their positive contribution is quite simply unfair and unhelpful in rebuilding ‘Broken Britain’– highly skilled foreign workers deserve better treatment!


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