Britain Tightens Visa Rules to Crack Down on Immigration

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Britain has announced stricter visa measures to reduce net migration, aiming for 300,000 fewer migrants than the previous year.

In response to pressure on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to address record net migration figures, Britain announced plans on Monday, December 4, to reduce the number of migrants arriving by legal methods while increasing the minimum pay they must earn in a skilled job by a third.

High rates of legal immigration have influenced British politics and played a major role in the country’s decision to leave the European Union in 2016. In the run-up to the anticipated election of next year, in which the opposition Labour Party is predicted to fare better in polls, Sunak has pledged to gain additional power after members of his Conservative Party criticised his performance.

However, the state-run health service and the private sector, both of which are struggling with labour shortages, were targeted by businesses and trade unions as being unproductive.

According to data released last month, net migration to the UK reached a record high of 745,000 in 2022 and has continued to rise ever since. However, a significant portion of these migrants are now from outside the EU, primarily from China, India, and Nigeria.

James Cleverly, the Home Secretary (interior minister), stated that the new policies could cut that figure by 300,000.

As part of his efforts to deport illegal immigrants to Rwanda, Sunak stated, “Immigration is too high.” “Today we’re taking radical action to bring it down.”

Cleverly stated that additional measures would be implemented by the government, such as prohibiting foreign health workers from bringing in family members while on a visa, raising the minimum income requirement for family visas, and raising the surcharge that migrants must pay to access healthcare by 66%.

According to the House of Commons Committee report, published on April 21, 2023, the UK’s labour market is currently unusually tight, with more than one million job vacancies across the country. The employment rate in early 2020 was 76.6%—the highest rate since records began in 1971—and rates of unemployment (3.7%) are close to their lowest levels.

The measures could spark new disputes with business owners who have struggled to hire workers in recent years given Britain’s persistently tight labour market and the end of free movement from the EU since Britain’s 2020 exit from the bloc.

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