UK work permit policy threatens 'long-term economic damage'

22 Oct 2012 | Posted by Carl Thomas

The government's policy regarding UK work permits for skilled migrants poses a long-term threat to the health of the British economy, it has been suggested.

An editorial in the Economist has highlighted the plight of Hussam Elamin, a Sudanese graduate of Leeds University, who has experienced more than his fair share of bad luck with the UK immigration system, taking him as an example for wider problems with visa access.

Following the expiration of his two-year post study UK work visa, Mr Elamin applied for a residency visa, but this was rejected. His marriage to a European citizen and subsequent application for a UK spouse visa was also rejected and declared a sham. He was later forced to leave two jobs because his employers were unwilling to go through the cost and hassle of sponsoring him for a work permit.

Unfortunately, Mr Elamin's plight is not unique. Other students and would-be workers have had similarly difficult experiences since the Coalition Government introduced a crackdown on UK immigration numbers.

"Britain’s reputation among foreign would-be students has already worsened. 'Really very bad news' and 'new rules hit us badly' are two typical comments left on an Indian website that reported the change in immigration rules," the publication noted. "A related worry is that business will suffer."

While the annual quota of 20,700 Tier 2 work permits appears to be adequate, the changes to the rules attached to it are decidedly not. The magazine notes "much grumbling about how the rules are applied", and also suggests that the changes send out the message that "skilled migrants are not wanted in Britain".

Of course there will always be disagreements and opposing views when it comes to the best way to handle immigration while also negotiating crippling domestic unemployment. But the Economist is just the latest voice to float its opinion in the business world as it becomes increasingly clear that the British economy could be damaged if it continues to scare of the world's brightest and best job candidates.