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UK Election 2024: Immigration Policy Tracker – Migration Observatory

UK Election 2024: Immigration Policy Tracker – Migration Observatory
UK Election 2024: Immigration Policy Tracker – Migration Observatory


Net Migration LevelsNet migration is the most commonly used measure of migration in UK political discussions. The number of people coming into the UK from abroad minus the number leaving.

The number of net migrants in 2023 will be 685,000, well above the level of about 200,000 to 300,000 in the 2010s.

See also: Net migration to the UK

The Conservatives said there was too much immigration and the number of people arriving from overseas should be reduced. However, no specific goals were set.

In December 2023, Home Secretary James Cleverly announced several measures designed to reduce immigration levels. Specific changes will be discussed with relevant policy areas.

Labor has not set a specific target for net migration levels, but shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper has said the party will introduce measures to reduce net migration. These changes will be discussed within the relevant policy areas. Employment Immigration The Skilled Worker visa is the largest employment immigration route in the UK. People coming to the UK on this visa must be sponsored for a job that meets specific skills and salary requirements.

Occupations added to the Immigration Wage List (formerly the Shortage Occupations List) may meet lower wage thresholds and thus make the visa valid.

More information: Immigrants in the UK labor market: an overview, how will the new salary scale affect immigration to the UK? And a ban on family members who are caregivers: what will be the impact?

The government initially liberalized non-EU labor migration after Brexit, but partially reversed the liberalization in early 2024. Carers will not be able to bring dependents to the UK from March 2024, and the minimum salary required for a skilled worker visa will rise from 26,200. It will increase to 38,700 in April 2024. There are some exemptions to the salary threshold, including for caregivers and senior caregivers.

Additionally, people coming to the UK to work in jobs on the Immigration Pay List must earn 30,960 or the median earnings for that particular occupation, whichever is higher.

Labor said it would ask the Migration Advisory Committee to review the impact of raising the wage threshold for skilled workers to 38,700 and banning carer dependents.

Labor said employers would have to meet additional conditions, including demonstrating efforts to train domestic workers, to receive a sponsor licence. Labor also said it would review its decision to scrap the resident labor market test, which requires employers to prove they have tried to recruit in the UK before hiring from overseas. It also wants to link the Immigration Advisory Board with bodies that set industry and technology strategies.

Student migration and graduate pathways The migration of international students and their families is the single largest group explaining the increase in net migration since 2019. In 2023, 143,500 visas were issued to student dependents, a record high.

After graduation, international students can switch to a post-study work visa, known as a Graduate Visa, to live and work in the UK for two years (or three years for PhD graduates).

See also: Student Migration to the UK

In January 2024, the Conservatives banned most students from bringing their families to the UK.

The Conservatives have proposed further measures to deal with fraudulent recruitment agents, limit distance learning and ensure universities accepting international students who fail Home Office visa checks could lose their sponsor licences.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said Labor would maintain the ban on family members of students.

Labor has not commented publicly on the review of the graduate route.

Family Income Standard This is the minimum income that British citizens and immigrants with indefinite leave permits must earn to bring their partner and children from abroad to live with them in the UK. It was first introduced in 2012.

Read more: Family wealth: new income requirements for partner visas in the UK

The minimum income requirement was increased from 18,600 to 29,000 in April 2024. This was the first of three proposed increases. The Conservatives have said they plan to increase the threshold until it reaches 38,700 in early 2025. A Labor spokesman said the party had real concerns about raising the minimum income requirement to 38,700 and would ask the Immigration Advisory Committee to: Review the changes. Immigration Fees Immigrants applying for a UK visa will usually have to pay a fee. The main costs include: visa application fee; Domestic visa extension application fee; immigration health surcharge; and settlement and citizenship fees.

See more: Q&A: UK immigration fees

In October 2023, the Home Office increased fees for various immigration and nationality applications. The Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) has been increased in February 2024. The government has suggested that rising fees would indirectly help fund pay increases for police, while higher rates for the IHS would reflect the estimated average cost of providing NHS services to immigrants. Labor has not commented publicly on rising immigration costs. Youth Mobility Scheme VisaYMS (Youth Mobility Visa Scheme) provides non-renewable work visas to young people (usually aged 18 to 30) under an agreement with the UK. YMS holders do not need sponsorship from an employer and are not tied to a specific job. There is a limit to the number of visas for each nationality.

The EU has announced a proposal to negotiate YMS with the UK.

See more: Work visas and migrant workers in the UK

A government spokesman said the party would not introduce an EU-wide youth mobility plan. Bilateral YMS deals have previously been proposed to individual EU countries, including Spain, Germany and Poland, according to newspaper reports. In response to the EU proposals, a Labor spokesman said the party had no plans for a youth mobility plan with the EU. . Exploitation of migrant care workers While it is impossible to quantify the scale of exploitation of migrant workers in the care sector, qualitative evidence suggests that this is a widespread problem.

Reported types of exploitation highlighted by the Migration Advisory Committee and ICIBI include modern slavery, unpaid labour, and bonded labor (i.e. forced labor to repay debts).

From March 2024, carers will need to register with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to sponsor migrant care workers. Labor has not publicly stated how it will tackle the exploitation of immigrants working in the care sector.




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