UK visa targets 'unlikely to be met'

21 Jun 2011 | Posted by Carl Thomas

A recent paper has suggested that the government is unlikely to meet its UK immigration targets.

Compiled by Oxford University's Migration Observatory, the report found that the coalition's promise to cut net migration to the tens of thousands by the end of this parliament will most probably not be delivered through current policies.

In fact, the target could be missed by more than 65,000, the observatory noted in its report, entitled Off Target.

Prime minister David Cameron, the home secretary Theresa May and UK immigration minister Damian Green have all asserted the Conservative's pledge to reduce net migration to below 100,000 by 2015.

But even looking at the government’s own estimates, the paper confirmed, current policy changes will not reach this target.

Dr Scott Blinder, senior researcher at the Migration Observatory, commented: "The government's current policies only look likely to reduce net migration by about 75,000 at best – which would mean that further reductions of more than 67,000 would be needed to meet the 'tens of thousands' net migration target."

He added that the government have a number of options to rectify the issue, including the introduction of further restrictions on the UK visas issued to people from outside the European Union.

Alternatively, officials could reconsider the timeframe within which they hope to lower UK immigration or they could "continue and hope that net migration of British and EU nationals turns sufficiently negative" or that the current impact assessments are "way off the mark".

Estimates from the Migration Observatory suggest that forthcoming changes to family migration are unlikely to reduce net migration by more than 8,000, while the proposed changes to settlement policy are "unlikely to deliver tangible change for net migration before 2016".