In today’s blog post we will report on the news that the UK government are raising the earning threshold needed for foreign workers to settle in the UK. As of April 2016 the new pay threshold of £35,000 will affect migrants who want to apply for ILR (Indefinite Leave to Remain) after spending a period of five years in the UK. Theresa May, the Home Secretary, said the idea behind the latest changes is to reduce the number of non-EEA residents and their dependents applying for settlement from 60,000 to 20,000 annually.
Usually IRL, or settlement, is granted after a period of five years spent in the UK. However, the government are to introduce, in an unprecedented move that no other British government have done before, an earning requirement. The government claim that those who often apply for IRL whilst working in the UK are not well paid and are in unskilled jobs. The move aims to attract the best and brightest to remain in the UK and make it harder for those who do not qualify to stay here.
The move is part of the latest string of tough immigration measures as the government seeks to reduce net migration from the 100,000s to the 10,000s.
Shortage of occupation jobs such as nurses will not be subject to this requirement, scientists and PHD level researchers will also be exempt from the earning requirement.
However, some have labelled the move as unrealistic in terms of limiting migration as the vast majority of migrants entering the UK tend to come from Europe. With the median wage in the UK around £26,500 the salary threshold has been seen as an arbitrary number that is not reflective of current UK earnings. Additionally, the wage does not seem to take into account the location of the worker and differences in wages across the country. The figure is thought to reflect the amount that an individual needs to earn before they break even with financially regarding the amount paid in tax and the amount an individual would take from the state.
This latest policy raises many questions over its fairness for those who have been working in the UK and now will face additional hurdles should they want to settle here. In particular, it adds increased financial pressure and a deadline on workers to reach a certain pay scale within a fixed period of time. Certain industries such as catering and the tech sector may not even be able to offer such salaries which could lead to a shortfall of specialist workers in the future.