A leading business immigration lawyer says concerns over the Government’s white paper on immigration are being heightened by ‘political scaremongering’.
Matthew Davies, partner at Midlands law firm Wright Hassall, claims that apart from making the expected provision for the end of free movement for EU nationals from 2021, the report by Sajid Javid envisages the UK’s immigration policy being ‘modified’ rather than subject to ‘wholesale changes’.
Matthew, who has more than 20 years’ experience in dealing with business immigration law, believes that the supposed impact of £30,000 a year salary threshold, one of the most controversial aspects of the white paper, is being exaggerated.
He said: “Apart from delivering the inevitable end to free movement that is part and parcel of Brexit, this is not really wholesale change to our immigration policy.
“Instead it is a number of modifications being made to the Points Based system we have had in place since 2008.
“That was quite a huge change for this country and the Government aren’t going to rip that up and start again now.
“It would be too expensive, too difficult and too time-consuming to completely start from scratch.
“The default threshold has already been in place for some years within the Points Based System for non-EU migration and the numerous exceptions that already apply can easily be built into the new arrangements for EU nationals from 2021.”
Matthew also believes that the Government is attempting to encourage employers to address the productivity gap through upskilling current staff rather than looking to immigration, which he claims is ‘not unreasonable or unworkable’
He said: “The Government is trying to manage the news agenda so no-one can say it hasn’t delivered on a key plank of Brexit – reducing unwanted immigration.
“By positioning persistently high immigration as more skilled workers and fewer skilled workers are coming to the UK, it hopes to neutralise concerns.
“Latching onto a £30,000 salary figure is largely political scaremongering from other sides about how those supposedly less skilled workers keep the UK economy together.
“The £30,000 salary threshold will not be as black and white as is being made out, it will work alongside a number of other measures such as time restrictions and exemptions to ensure that sectors from tourism to medical are not unduly impacted.
“The Government also wants employers to address the productivity gap by investing in upskilling the settled workforce rather than reaching automatically for the immigration button.
“That’s not unreasonable or unworkable, and funding is already delivered in part through the skills charge applied to some immigration applications.
“At this stage, we have to remember this is just a white paper.”
The Government say that the changes to the immigration system will see a skills-based approach taken and phased in from 2021.