Saturday, June 11, 2011

Tens of thousands of migrants will be barred from settling in the UK under Government plans to be 'more selective'

Tens of thousands of migrants will be asked to leave the UK under Government plans to clamp down on those abusing temporary visas to stay permanently. Immigration Minister Damian Green says Britain will be 'more selective about who we allow to stay' as immigration has hit record levels last year.

Mr Green has told MPs a clearer distinction was needed between temporary and permanent routes into the UK to ensure migrants do not take advantage of loopholes.

The number of people granted settlement in the UK reached an all-time high in the 12 months to last September, up 35 per cent from the previous year to 238,950 - the highest level since records began in 1960. 'We intend to break the automatic link between coming to the UK to work and settling here permanently,' Mr Green said.

Skilled workers coming to the UK from outside the EU, predominantly as a means of filling short-term skills shortages, 'should expect to leave the UK after a maximum of five years in the UK', he added. 'In future, only a tightly controlled minority will be permitted to stay permanently, where it is in the interests of the UK to do so.'

The Government is also considering bringing in an English language requirement for dependants of migrants who wish to settle in the UK.

And domestic workers coming to stay in diplomatic households as servants could be limited to just six or 12 months, while visas for domestic workers in private households could be scrapped altogether. 'This would oblige those wanting domestic workers to recruit instead from the UK labour market, with the rights and protections that affords,' Mr Green said.

The current system, which enables domestic workers to stay for up to six years and then apply for settlement, is 'exceptionally generous, and sits ill with an immigration system focused on meeting identified skill shortages and securing the brightest and best migrants', Mr Green added.

Temporary workers could also be restricted to 12-month stays 'to reinforce the temporary nature of the route'. They could also been banned from bringing their dependants, or have their dependants' ability to work restricted.

Dr Adam Marshall, director of policy and external affairs at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: 'Britain's migration system must protect our economy as well as our borders. 'Turfing out valuable migrant workers who are turned down for settlement would be incredibly disruptive to companies of all sizes, and to the UK's economic recovery. 'These proposals could also deter some skilled workers from coming to the UK in the first place.'

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of campaign group MigrationWatch UK, said the proposals were 'excellent news'. 'There will now be a real incentive for employers to train British workers rather than continue to take skilled foreign workers 'off the shelf' so as to avoid training costs,' he said.

Shadow home office minister Shabana Mahmood said Labour backed reform of the settlement regime. But she warned that changes would only be effective 'if they are backed up by strong and consistent enforcement of the rules' and highlighted recent critical reports of the UK Border Agency.

'On top of this, the Government has imposed a 20% cut on the UKBA budget, which will mean the loss of over 5,000 jobs,' she said. 'It is inevitable that enforcement will suffer as a result.

'The Government needs to be straight with the public. 'Its key pledge on immigration - to reduce net migration to the tens of thousands by 2015 - is in disarray, and they have once again failed to explain to the public how this will be achieved. 'The Government talks tough on immigration, but it is clear that it is failing to deliver.'


Australia's migrant intake to be more 'English'

AUSTRALIA'S migrant intake is set to become more "English" and less Asian because of a tough language test.

An Immigration Department report says fewer than one in five skilled migrants comes from major English background nations such as Britain, the United States, South Africa and Canada.

The skilled program is dominated by people from Asian countries including India, China, Malaysia, Indonesia and Sri Lanka -- many of whom struggle with English. "This selection strategy has profound implications for employment outcomes in a knowledge economy," the report said.

But report author Prof Lesleyanne Hawthorne, from Melbourne University, said yesterday that things would change when tougher English standards for skilled migrants were introduced by the Federal Government from July 1.

Prof Hawthorne said people with high English fluency would get extra points and employer-sponsored migrants would move to the front of the queue. "So we will see a high proportion of our skilled migrants in the next few years from English-speaking backgrounds," she told the Herald Sun.

The make-up of the skilled migration program was being strongly influenced by employers, who tended to pick Anglo-background workers for temporary skilled visas. "Employers ... in the knowledge economy are picking people basically from OECD countries," she said.

The report, prepared for the Immigration Department, compared the skilled migration policies of Australia and New Zealand. It found that in recent years about 17 per cent of skilled migrants to Australia were from Anglo-background nations compared with almost half in NZ.


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