It appears that the UK Border Agency is about to crack down on granting indefinite leave to remain to migrants who have been in the country for five years. According to an article on BBC News, the government wants to “”break the automatic link between coming to the UK to work and settling here permanently”. However ministers are saying, “they could make exceptions for workers earning more than £150,000 or if they were in economically important jobs” and further to this, “Clearly employers need skilled labour from overseas but in principle our view is that should be temporary, while British workers are trained for those jobs.”
So let me get this straight… first of all there seems to be a perception that you arrive, you stay for five years and then they just hand you a residence permit? Have any of these government ministers ever attempted to go through the process of getting indefinite leave to remain? I won’t bore you with the details of the process I went through to get mine again. You can read about it here, if you’re interested. But I will say the level of expense and hoop-jumping that those of us who have decided to settle here go through means that choosing to settle really is a commitment to being a permanent UK resident rather than an “automatic” right!
Secondly there appears to be an undercurrent here of the UK intending to get whatever it can out of migrant workers and then boot them out as soon as possible… well unless they’re uber rich of course. As it stands permission to work is only granted for jobs where there are no British workers able or willing to take these roles so I’d like to know who is busy training the British workers who are going to replace the working migrants?
Adding insult to injury, this comes after the very recent revelation that the UKBA is incapable of managing the asylum cases that it is flooded with and that it’s often easier just to let asylum seekers stay rather than even bothering to assess their cases.
Now, I understand that some people face terrible persecution for things that are not their fault in the countries that they were born in and in these genuine cases any country that is able to grant them asylum should be morally obliged to do so. These cases do need to be assessed though!
I also think that you should have to work hard to get your residency because it’s a privilege and in some ways an honour. While it was tough paying for mine and annoying writing the test and sometimes frustrating being subject to rules about how long I could be in the country and who I could work for, I didn’t feel like I was being treated unfairly.
And I do understand the UK’s need to manage sustainable immigration… but why punish professional migrants who pay taxes, follow immigration laws and are not a drain on the system. Is that really the logical place to start managing immigration or is it just the easiest place? If the real fear is that people go from indefinite leave to citizenship where they can then claim benefits and a UK pension one day why not reform the laws around naturalisation instead.
At the moment you can apply to be become a naturalised citizen one year after achieving indefinite leave to remain. Although it works in my favour right now, I think it’s too quick. Why not extend that time considerably for anyone who is not able to provide strong ties to the UK (strong ties being things like marriage and ancestry or possibly children born in the UK who have reached a certain age). That way you keep only those people in the country who are wholly able to sustain themselves, while reaping the benefits of their taxes and expertise but allowing them the freedom to live without immigration controls.
I love living in the UK but there are days when I wonder why I am trying so hard to settle in a country that seems to hate me so much!