The UK immigration System between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea: Time & Transparency
When the UK introduced the New Points-based System, there were different debates on its impact on facilitating the processing of applications and ensuring fairness for all applicants as the rules apply to both EU – after Brexit- & Non-EU Citizens. However, the current challenges reflect that the system still needs to be evaluated and revised to meet its initial goals, especially for the skilled worker route. The new system is built on a set of mandatory requirements which are not enough to reach the required points on its own; as a result, frustration arises among all applicants and maybe here comes the fairness!
Transparency is highly addressed while discussing the UK immigration system, but different routes could lead to the same target. On the surface, it seems to be a fair and equal system but when we dig deep, drawbacks clearly drift.
The current system requires each applicant to score 70 points to be qualified for a skilled worker visa. Yet, the mandatory requirements -job offer, “appropriate” skill level & required English level – are only worth of 50 points. In fact, these requirements could have been enough for skilled workers to start their life in the UK then may be other aspects could be handled over time. Officials also ignored the Migration Advisor Committee advice about introducing a “mixed System with minimum salary threshold for people with job offers and keep the points-based system for people coming to the UK without arranged job. Examining this option with adding other requirements such as a family or personal bank statement or an ownership contract of apartment will help to ensure that applicants have enough financial support for a year to establish safety in the country without compromising transparency or society’s stability in any way. These different options could have saved resources and time for both parties.
The Time Factor
Concerning the time factor, the timeframe of visa decisions for many routes needs to be revised; particularly for family reunification visa which takes up to 24 weeks or the asylum seeker applications which could take years to be finalised. The time element is very sensitive when we discuss immigration, but it even works anticlockwise with extension requests. In what sense can an extension application of a current resident in the UK take more time than submitting a new application from scratch? Additionally, time became a real monster for this system after the massive backlog that happens due to the successive events of Brexit, the Covid-19 pandemic and recently the Ukrainian invasion.
Current officials developed the argument of saving the country’s economy through the existing system and its current restrictions. They claim that limiting immigration numbers will subsequently benefit the UK in different sectors like industry, health care and total income. However, this argument was refuted many times through different resources. The Health Foundation published a statement on the impact of immigration on the NHS in 2019; the foundation stated that “Both the NHS and social care in England are suffering severe staffing shortages. The health service is struggling to train and recruit enough nurses from within the UK.” The argument was also discussed in 2018 by The Economist newspaper as the data team proved that “Migrants contribute more to Britain than they take and will carry on doing so”. Another piece of evidence was shared by a financial report in October 2022 that “international students bring £25.9 billion per year to the UK economy through fees and spending”. From the above, we could conclude that saving the economy could happen by encouraging immigration and helping them to blend into society especially as the UK needs skilled workers to fill the skill gaps currently addressed in society.
In a nutshell, Home State should work towards fixing the system and ease the steps for the mutual interest of all parties.
The UK is in need of immigration to help in all sectors and immigrants are looking for a better place to live, study & work; therefore, this place must feel like home for them to be able to succeed. If officials are afraid of newcomers, they should arrange programs to ease the blend and raise awareness of accepting others. They should facilitate the system to accept and widen the way for their new life; not grind applicants between time and complicated rules until they receive the decision.