There is no doubt that the UK has to date benefited immensely from visa free EU immigration to the extent that visa conditions and caps on non-EU migrant have undermined and overshadowed the ability of this group to play a prominent role in British industry and commerce, and in its expanding and overburdened NHS service. It is the view of Gulbenkian Andonian however, that after Brexit, there should be a noticeable change in those skilled non-EU migrants contributing to British society in a meaningful way.
The previous Labour government ran a relatively soft policy on immigration with a plethora of rights of immigration and asylum appeals, thus enabling those with no practical claim to remain in the UK to take advantage of the system, this making vexatious and frivolous applications with a view to delaying their removal from the UK, and indeed in the interim establishing further human rights claims here.
The Conservative government albeit making unforgivable mistakes as the Windrush scandal demonstrated, nevertheless had a better focus than Labour on at least the will to reduce non- EU migration to skilled visa applicants outside the EU for the best interests of British industry and commerce, and its NHS system free at the point of access. That focus, unfortunately, did not materialise in reducing non-EU migration to tens of thousands a year from hundreds of thousands, even with the tightening of appeal rights. That knee-jerk reaction, one of the main reasons for the Brexit 2016 referendum, fuelled by the alarm at net immigration figures, prompted the British government surprisingly to place annual caps on skilled migrant Tier 2 visa applications, instead of processing these visas on merit depending upon age, qualifications and experience, and also failing to provide the necessary funds for relevant Government Departments, so that removals of those with no right to remain here could be carried out effectively by the immigration service. Such lack of foresight and lack of funds to police removals, encouraged those with no right to remain here to become unaccounted by finding safety underground in the black economy with little or no concerns of being found out and removed.
By placing caps on skilled non – EU migrant visas, the government was missing the wood for the trees, as it failed to appreciate the bigger picture, which was the need to have more non- EU Tier 2 work visa migrants in the UK, in the wake of disgruntled EU nationals who clearly were of the opinion that they were no longer wanted in the UK and saw no reason after Brexit to prove their lawful stay by applying for settled or pre-settled status.
The chaos thus created by Brexit has been noticeable not only by some banks and car manufacturers in moving their base abroad but in the lacuna, it has created in various expertise within the NHS. There are now numerous vacancies for example for radiologists launched our shortages and other cancer specialists. Ironically it was a Labour government after the Second World War in 1945 that introduced the extensive programme of welfare measures including a national health service through the good offices of the Minister of Health, Aneurin Bevan. But that system, although was amazingly efficient in the last century, in the 21st-century is struggling to cope and provide an effective and efficient health service throughout Britain, largely due to an expanding population, and improvements in medicine which means people live much longer than they did before.
The strain on the NHS system imposed by those elderly dependents of family members as well as mentally and sometimes physically injured asylum seekers has taken its toll on doctors providing a free service.
We believe that the problem of the huge loss of non – EU talent has now finally been recognised by the government. The penny seems to have finally dropped, but at what cost! Accordingly, the Government has attempted recently by its white paper and other measures to introduce a more Skill-based Policy and it is hopeful that future Non-EU migrants may actually be seen to be more productive than before.
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Dr Bernard Andonian – the Co-Founder of Gulbenkian Andonian Solicitors, is an experienced Immigration Solicitor, former Judge, and recipient of a PhD in Law from the University of West London. He has over four decades of experience practising UK Immigration, Human Rights and Civil Litigation Law. He has served on the Law Society Immigration Law Panel, achieved numerous groundbreaking decisions in higher courts and is featured in the Legal 500’s Hall of Fame.