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On Monday, the United Kingdom revealed plans to reduce legal migrant arrivals by increasing the minimum salary requirement for skilled workers.
This move, aimed at tackling record net migration figures, is part of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s promise to gain greater control over immigration, responding to internal pressures within his Conservative Party and the significant lead of the opposition Labour Party in opinion polls.
The decision to raise the salary threshold for foreign skilled workers to 38,700 pounds, up from 26,200 pounds, is expected to cut annual net migration by 300,000, as stated by Home Secretary James Cleverly. While health and social workers are exempt, other measures include:
- Preventing foreign health workers from bringing family members on their visas.
- Increasing the health service surcharge for migrants by 66%.
- Raising the minimum income requirement for family visas.
Sunak also emphasized efforts to deport migrants arriving illegally to Rwanda.
The government also plans to abolish the ‘shortage occupations list,’ a critical pathway for businesses to hire migrant workers, and to review the list of occupations in severe need of staff. Home Secretary James Cleverly expressed the government’s intention to stop immigration from undercutting British workers’ salaries. However, the business sector and trade unions have criticized the measures as counterproductive, exacerbating labor shortages in various industries, including hospitality and healthcare.
Trade unions have voiced serious concerns about the plan’s impact, particularly in the health sector. UNISON’s general secretary, Christina McAnea, warned that the new policies could spell “total disaster” for the health service. McAnea also noted that migrants might choose more welcoming countries over the UK due to these stringent measures.