Launching the Tories Manifesto today, Theresa May has said a strong economy and delivering Brexit were top priorities. On immigration, the Tories have vowed to uphold the party’s promise to reduce net migration to the “tens of thousands”, toughen visa requirements for students wishing to work in the UK and make it more expensive for businesses to sponsor overseas workers.
If the Conservatives win the election next month, they will double the Immigration Skills Charge (ISC) levied on companies employing migrant workers to £2,000 a year by the end of parliament, using the revenue generated to invest in training for the settled workforce.
Carolyn Fairburn, Director General at the Confederation of Business Industry (CBI) believes that the Tories “blunt approach” to immigration risks UK businesses “being left in the starting blocks” at a time when there is a global race for talent and innovation.
It was only last month that the British Medical Association and Royal College of Nursing raised concerns that the current £1,000 annual charge was having a damaging impact on health and social care funding. In a letter to Theresa May in March, they asked her to exempt the NHS and the wider health and social care system from the ISC – this did not lead to a reversal in the government’s position.
To further reduce migration, the Tories have pledged to toughen the rules for students – they will be expected to leave the UK at the end of their studies unless they meet new higher requirements which will allow them to work in the UK. Overseas students will remain in the immigration statistics.
As for migration from the EU, the Tories intend to establish an immigration policy that will reduce and control the number of people who come to the UK from the EU. Our business immigration team will be monitoring any future developments closely.