HR Law looks at recent and expected immigration changes, and their context, and offers some top tips for employers on staying ahead.
Ports, airports and rail terminals geared up for the busiest travel weekend of the year expecting immigration troubles. Sure enough, trouble arrived, a great deal more quickly than many would-be holidaymakers. The cross-channel rail operator seems powerless to stop nightly incursions of hundreds of migrants; in Kent, the emergency response saw Operation Stack relegate the M20 to a huge car and lorry park. Across Europe, the darkening picture of mass migration and people trafficking on an unprecedented scale is disrupting transport, overwhelming health and humanitarian services and hitting local economies. There is no simple solution. The only certainty seems to be that it will get worse.
All this feeds into an immigration debate that makes politicians nervous. The UK Government is, like its predecessors, determined to show it is getting a grip on the issue and has answers. More legislation, more policy initiatives, more restructuring of departments, caps on numbers – how can employers plan ahead?
If the Cap hits, bear it
It has finally happened: demand has exceeded supply. Since the introduction of the Points Based System in 2008, an annual quota of 20,700 Restricted Certificates of Sponsorship has applied, divided into monthly allocations. In June and July 2015, there were more requests than allocations, so those scoring the fewest points were refused. In practice, this means:
Top tips to deal with the cap
The NHS Surcharge – migrants must contribute
Concerns about health tourism have long exercised the Government. In April, the NHS surcharge, provided for under the Immigration Act 2014, was added to all applications for sponsored migrants. A revision in early July integrated the payment process in fast track applications. In summary, applicants must register for a modest charge (currently applied at a zero rate for intra-company transferees). The limited scope and low overall cost, relative to the overall cost of employing a non-EEA national, establishes the contributory principle but has few significant implications for sponsoring employers.
Top tip to deal with the NHS surcharge
Immigration Bill 2015
Another Immigration Act, hard on the heels of the last? Our Government is determined to show its ability to balance control of immigration numbers with the needs of the economy. Anticipating protests from employers and industry bodies, the Prime Minister’s speech introducing the Bill on 21 May linked further restrictions to a drive to increase the skills of the resident workforce to reduce reliance on skilled immigration. A realistic aim? We shall see. The conspicuous failure of his last Government to deliver on its promise to reduce net immigration from hundreds to tens of thousands by the end of the Parliament is a strong impetus. This week senior NHS figures have slammed the high levels of recruitment of overseas nurses as “distracting, frustrating and expensive” and “morally indefensible” when there are not enough training places for UK nurses because of funding cuts.
Measures with particular relevance to employers include:
More changes ahead for employers?
And there is more. The Government’s unstinting commitment to reducing economic migration has prompted it to ask the Migration Advisory Committee to evaluate further restrictions to Tier 2, with potentially significant impacts on Sponsored Migrants and their families:
Top tips for getting ready for the new regime
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