The British government has announced new measures to reduce net migration to the United Kingdom. This includes plans to raise the minimum salary required for foreign workers to be eligible for a work visa. Interior Minister James Cleverly stated that the government will increase the minimum salary threshold for foreign skilled workers to 38,700 pounds ($48,800), up from the current level of 26,200 pounds ($33,000). This move aims to address the high levels of legal migration that have dominated Britain’s political landscape.
The government’s decision to raise the minimum salary threshold comes after record net migration in 2022, which put pressure on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to take action. Sunak has faced criticism from lawmakers in his Conservative Party and has promised to gain more control over migration. The government’s goal is to reduce migration, with previous Conservative-led governments aiming for a net migration figure of less than 100,000.
In addition to raising the minimum salary threshold, the government plans to reform the list of jobs where exceptions are made due to shortages and toughen rules on whether workers can bring their families. Interior Minister James Cleverly emphasized the need to reduce migration to the UK and stated that the measures would take place from next spring. However, these measures could lead to disputes with business owners who have struggled to hire workers due to Britain’s tight labor market and the end of free movement from the European Union following Brexit.
The Brexit referendum campaign argued that leaving the EU would give Britain greater control of its borders. Many who voted to leave cited high migration and the pressure it put on public services as factors in their decision. However, in recent years, Britain has opened visa schemes for people in Ukraine and former colony Hong Kong. Companies in sectors such as engineering, construction, and catering have called on the government to allow them to hire international staff to offset labor shortages.
According to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), overall immigration in 2022 was about 1.16 million, offset by emigration of 557,000. The ONS reported that 925,000 of those arriving in 2022 were non-EU nationals, 151,000 came from the EU, and 88,000 were British citizens. The data also showed that there were 114,000 long-term arrivals from Ukraine and 52,000 from Hong Kong under special visa schemes.
In response to the high levels of migration, Sunak has pledged to crack down on irregular migration, particularly after tens of thousands of people arrived on small boats across the English Channel from continental Europe in recent years. The government’s goal is to reduce the number of people coming to the UK in future years. These measures are part of the government’s efforts to gain more control over migration and address the concerns of the public and lawmakers.
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