Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Now it's a U-turn on student visas: British PM wants to relax rules preventing university migrants

David Cameron is preparing to make a U-turn over foreign students after pressure from Liberal Democrat MPs.

Currently, non-EU students – arriving at a rate of 225,000 a year – are included in immigration statistics to reflect the way they add hugely to the population.

Ministers, who have pledged to reduce net migration to the ‘tens of thousands’, have been working on plans to slash dramatically the number of student visas given out.  Research shows that up to a quarter of them are not ‘genuine’ students.

But Lib Dem Business Secretary Vince Cable, supported by universities and some figures at No 10, instead wants students to be removed from the immigration figures altogether.

This would mean there was no longer pressure on the Government to get a grip on non-EU student visas, which have been subject to rampant abuse in recent years.

The Home Office has been resisting the idea, which immigration minister Damian Green called ‘absurd’.

But in a move which will enrage Tory backbenchers, it emerged last night that Mr Cameron is considering siding with Mr Cable, who says foreign students are worth billions to the economy.

There is a powerful faction inside Downing Street, understood to include Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood, urging the Prime Minister to head in this direction.

A source at No. 10 reportedly said Mr Cameron ‘understands’ their arguments and is ‘definitely considering a change of policy’.

The move, which follows U-turns on the Budget and others including petrol tax and public sector pay, would provoke a fierce response from campaign groups and backbench MPs.

The Migrationwatch think-tank says removing student visas from the calculation would ‘destroy public confidence in the Government’s immigration policy’.

Instead of bringing immigration under control, all ministers would be doing is reclassifying what constitutes a migrant.

The row comes after Home Office research showed that as many as one in four foreign students allowed into Britain may not be genuine.

Interviews with non-EU applicants revealed more than 25 per cent were not credible, but immigration officials were forced to let them in regardless.

The highest number of bogus entrants come from the Indian sub-continent, Burma, the Philippines and Nigeria.

Staff were left hamstrung three years ago when Labour stripped them of powers to block suspected bogus students.  Home Secretary Theresa May will today restore that discretion amid fears the move has created a huge loophole in border controls.

A Migrationwatch report found that foreign students are adding 75,000 to the population every year by not going home at the end of their courses. Some 25,000 of these remain here illegally.

The remainder either take jobs or are given permission to settle down with a partner or undertake further studies.

Last night, a Border Force spokesman said: ‘We are clear that overseas students should remain part of the net migration figures.’


Tax Benefits for Hiring Foreign Workers Add to Shortages in Trust Funds for Elderly

Social Security, Medicare, Unemployment Funds Lose Over $1.5 Billion

The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) provides the first published estimates of shortfalls to government trust funds for senior citizens resulting from the hiring of certain categories of foreign workers. In the Center's recent study, How Employers Cheat America's Aging by Hiring Foreign Workers, CIS fellow David North examines how American employers and over half a million alien workers avoid paying payroll taxes to the detriment of American retirees and disabled workers.

The report is online here.

By hiring certain classes of aliens, American employers and their foreign workers can avoid paying taxes to the Social Security, Medicare, and Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) trust funds. Employers save at least 8.45 percent of the total payroll, undermining the incentive to hire American citizens or legal residents. While employers are just playing by the rules outlined in legislation, it is clear that the legislation is written to benefit the non-citizen workers and their employers.

'We have in these programs a double whammy: a government program that subsidizes employers to hire alien workers, rather than resident ones, on one hand, and, on the other hand, the routine siphoning of moneys that should be going to the trust funds for the aging, moneys that instead wind up in the pockets of the foreign workers and their employers,' North comments.

'Although some may contend that foreign workers who won't remain in the country long enough to benefit from these trust funds shouldn't be required to contribute, there's no rationale for the employer benefiting,' said Mark Krikorian, Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies. 'These trust funds are losing over $1.5 billion a year as a direct result of these foreign-worker programs. This is obviously a small part of the shortfall faced by these programs, but there is no excuse for retaining these loopholes carved out by Congress and special interests.'

Mr. North's research provides calculations on trust fund losses for each of the relevant foreign worker programs, including Summer Work Travel, foreign students working off campus, cultural workers, and foreign college graduates working on OPT permits. The latter category permits foreign workers to stay for as long as two years and five months after graduation.

The above is a press release from from Center for Immigration Studies. 1522 K St. NW, Suite 820,  Washington, DC 20005, (202) 466-8185 fax: (202) 466-8076.  Email: center@cis.org. Contact: Marguerite Telford, 202-466-8185, mrt@cis.org

The Center for Immigration Studies is an independent research institution which examines the impact of immigration on the United States.  The Center for Immigration Studies is not affiliated with any other organization

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