Conservative Manifesto on Immigration - Spouse Visa and NHS Surcharge and Immigration Skills Charge Set to Increase

You need to look no further than the Conservative party manifesto to see how tough life could become for HR directors, employers, and migrants if they achieve success on 8th June.  And according to all polls and commentators, their victory will be resounding.

It is clear from the language used in the manifesto when discussing immigration that there will be little sympathy given to foreigners wishing to come to the UK, either to work, join family or study.  Consider the below statement:

“We will, therefore, continue to bear down on immigration from outside the European Union. We will increase the earnings thresholds for people wishing to sponsor migrants for family visas. We will toughen the visa requirements for students, to make sure that we maintain high standards. We will expect students to leave the country at the end of their course, unless they meet new, higher requirements that allow them to work in Britain after their studies have concluded. Overseas students will remain in the immigration 55 statistics – in line with international definitionsand within scope of the government’s policy to reduce annual net migration.”

It is imperative for both migrants and HR directors/employers who are considering applying for a visa or a UK Sponsor Licence to instruct an experienced immigration lawyer immediately to achieve the best outcome before these suggested changes come into effect.

Ever since her years as Home Secretary, Theresa May has been at odds with employer groups, Human Rights advocates and the best solicitors over immigration numbers.  Time and time again, she has stated she wants net migration figures to fall below the 100,000 mark.

She has never once achieved this.  Former Chancellor, George Osborne, who was sacked from his position by Mrs. May, wrote a scathing editorial piece in the Evening Standard, stating:

“We have been here before. Over the past seven years, the Government has not been able to reduce significantly the numbers of non-Europeans coming here — though we could. The damage to the economy from seriously reducing work visas was judged too severe by an expert migration committee; the impact on community relations of further limiting family reunion visas was seen as unpalatable; and few thought we were taking in too many refugees. There are no other groups we can turn away.

Mrs May knows all this. She knows that a sensible immigration policy is driven by clear principles not arbitrary numbers. If one of those principles is no longer to be the freedom to move to work between Britain and Europe, we need to hear what its replacement will be. Recommitting to a failed immigration pledge, without knowing how to achieve it, is merely wishful thinking.”

Despite the criticism, judging by her past record, if she is elected Prime Minister, Mrs. May will hammer migrants hard, focusing not only on foreigners but the businesses who hire them. 

The three key areas a Conservative government would target are, according to the manifesto:

spouse visa

The Conservative government has always targeted families in its attempts to bring down immigration figures, and the Conservative manifesto has proven to be no exception.  At present, the minimum income threshold that a person who wishes to sponsor family members must meet is £18,600.  Even though this sum is far greater than many British workers earn, the Conservative government intends to increase it if they get into power again in June.

immigration Skills Charge

The immigration Skills Charge was introduced in April 2017.  Currently, it costs employers who recruit non-EEA workers £1,000 per employee, per year.  The Conservative manifesto states that this will rise to £2,000 per employee, per year;

“[The] skilled immigration should not be a way for government or business to avoid their obligations to improve the skills of the British workforce. So we will double the immigration Skills Charge levied on companies employing migrant workers, to £2,000 a year by the end of the parliament, using the revenue generated to invest in higher level skills training for workers in the UK.”

This will hit employers who rely on skilled, non-EEA workers hard.  With unemployment being at its lowest in recent memory, it's hard to understand where all these mythical, highly-educated, highly-skilled British workers will suddenly appear from.

immigration Health Surcharge

The immigration Health Surcharge will be tripled by an incoming Conservative government.  The new surcharge will be £600 for adults and £450 for students.  If this is required to be paid upfront, as it is now, a Tier 2 (General) migrant worker bring a spouse and two children into the UK on a five-year visa will be required to pay £12,000 before they can enter the UK.

“…we will increase the immigration Health Surcharge, to £600 for migrant workers and £450 for international students, to cover their use of the NHS. This remains competitive compared to the costs of health insurance paid by UK nationals working or studying overseas.”

This is an astounding amount.  There is little doubt that this will put off many non-EEA workers seeking employment in the UK.

Actions employers and visa applicants can take to avoid any of these new policies

If you are an HR director or employer, a Tier 2 migrant or a spouse of a UK national who wants to come to the UK on a family visa, it is crucial to act quickly.  By getting your application for a UK Sponsor Licence, Tier 2 visa, Certificate of Sponsorship or spouse visa organised before the election (or soon after) you have the best chance of having a decision made under the old rules and avoiding the new increased costs.

OTS Solicitors is one of the most respected immigration law firms in London.  By making an appointment with one of our immigration solicitors, you can be assured of receiving some of the best legal advice available in the UK today. 

If you wish to discuss any of the points raised in this blog, please phone our London office on 0207 936 9960.



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