And much of the world will still be excluded from coming to the UK
Ministers like Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay keep trying to draw a false contrast between the current nationality-based immigration system and their plans for a “skills-based immigration system”.
The argument is that the current system discriminates on nationality. If you’re from an EU country, you can come to the UK, if you’re from a non-EU country, it’s a lot harder.
So far, so correct. The existing system does discriminate on nationality. But will the new immigration system be any different?
For the high-earners it might. Under the proposed immigration scheme, if you can earn £30k, you’re in, wherever you’re from. Of course, earning power is not the same as skills though.
And for the vast majority of people who want to come to the UK earning £30k a year is not possible.
Under Sajid Javid’s new system, these people will still be discriminated on along nationality lines.
Instead of EU versus non-EU, the new system will judge on “countries with low risk of immigration abuse” versus “countries with high risk of immigration abuse”. If you’re from the latter, you can’t come unless you earn £30k.
Which countries will be judged low risk has not been announced but currently the UK has 29 countries on its ‘Appendix H’ list. This makes it easier for citizens of those countries to come to the UK temporarily as they’re judged “low-risk”.
These countries include the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and most of East and South-East Asia including China, Indonesia and Malaysia but excluding the Philippines and Vietnam.
However, there are no South Asian countries on the list and just one from the whole of Africa – Botswana.
Together, Africa and South Asia make up about 40% of the world’s population.
In Latin America, the list consists of Chile, Argentina and Mexico but excludes the rest of the continent.
So it seems likely that the new list of countries whose citizens can come and earn less than £30k will be basically Appendix H plus the European Union.
On top of this, those that do come to work would have less rights than they used to as they will only be given a visa to work for a year at a time.
This puts terrible power in the hands of their employers. Get sacked and you will have to leave the country when your visa expires.
The new immigration system will be more exploitative than the current one and will not end nationality-based discrimination.
Joe Lo is a freelance journalist and a reporter for Left Foot Forward
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