UK set for crackdown on immigration before Brexit with tougher visa rules

by Ray Clancy on October 7, 2016

People moving to the UK to live, work and study could face tougher restrictions sooner rather than later with the Home Secretary indicating that she will not wait until the official Brexit process to bring in change.

Article 50, the process by which the UK formally begins leaving the European Union, is set to be triggered by the end of March 2017 at the latest with the county formally leaving in 2019.

flag-ukBut Home Secretary Amber Rudd is to launch a consultation paper on bringing in controls aimed at new restrictions on overseas students and workers and the setting aside a $140 million fund for controlling migration.

Rudd said in a speech that businesses should ensure that foreign workers do not ‘take the jobs that British people should do’ and she wants all companies to reveal how many overseas people they employ.

When it comes to students, the UK wants to reduce the number coming from outside Europe with the likelihood that new rules will look at the quality of the courses offered to international applicants.

There will be a new multi-tiered student immigration system and tightening of the resident labour market test that companies have to pass before recruiting employees from overseas. ‘The test should ensure people coming here are filling gaps in the labour market, not taking jobs British people could do,’ Rudd said.

She wants to tighten the current system where family members of an international student studying in the UK can come to the country and work and indicated that a language test is likely.

She also announced that mandatory immigration status checks under this year’s legislation, including on those who apply for licences to drive taxis, would come into effect this December.

But universities are unlikely to back a plan that ties student visas to particular universities or particular courses. ‘International students make an enormous contribution to UK higher education, both educationally and economically. As highly skilled people, they make an invaluable contribution to our economy,’ said Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union.

‘This proposal to limit overseas students to particular universities and courses equates to pulling up the drawbridge and sending a message that the UK is closed for business. Ministers need to take a very different approach and support universities by removing international students from the net migration target altogether,’ she added.

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