Australians ‘concerned about UK visa changes’

17 Feb 2016 | Posted by Carl Thomas

A Conservative MP has raised concerns about the tightening of immigration and UK visa regulations, which will make it more expensive for Australians to come to Britain.

Andrew Rosindell, who sits on the Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee, said that the changes which come into effect shortly, could damage the relationship between the two countries.

He told Australia’s ABC: "I think it is wholly wrong that we should allow that relationship to be harmed or watered down in any way and I'd like to see our Government completely relook at rebuilding that relationship and making it ever strong."

Mr Rosindell spoke out as concerns mounted in Australia about the changes to the UK’s immigration policies which come into effect in April.

These include the £200 charge levied on non-EU citizens who have a UK visa for longer than six months to cover access to the NHS, and the minimum earnings threshold of £35,000 for those who want to apply for permanent UK residency.

The concerns were echoed by the National Association of Head Teachers, which is worried about what the changes will mean for Australian teachers. It is now lobbying the Government to exempt Australian teachers from the rules.

Spokeswoman Valentine Mullholland said: "We know that every year the Government is registering 500 Australian teachers who want to work in this country and we don't want to reduce that pool."

Australians receive among the highest number of UK work visas, many of which are issued via the two-year ‘youth mobility’ programme. The Government has pledged to retain this scheme.

However, removal of other routes to working and staying in the UK are likely to affect the number of Australians travelling to Britain.

An online petition has been launched calling for a fresh look at the changes. It will win the right to be debated in Parliament if it collects 100,000 signatures.