Home Secretary”s keynote immigration speech

The Home Secretary, Theresa May has this week announced that the government”s aim to reduce net migration to the UK is working whilst still allowing us to attract the “brightest and best” to the UK.  In her speech to Policy Exchange on Wednesday she stated that net migration has been cut by a quarter in a single year and now stands at the lowest level since 2008.

Whilst she committed to continue to be tough on immigration abuse, she also announced a number of positive new proposals to be introduced in the coming months to continue to facilitate the highly skilled to be able to come to the UK.

In particular she mentioned two new schemes that will aim to attract the “wealth creators of the future”.  Firstly, to introduce a scheme whereby 1,000 places will be offered to MBA graduates who want to stay in Britain and start businesses. 

Secondly to allow PhD students who have completed their studies here to be allowed to stay here to find skilled work or to set up as an entrepreneur under the rules.  She indicated that essentially from next April, all such students will be allowed to stay in Britain for twelve months after they have completed their PhD before having to find a job or start a business.

She also made reference to the crackdown on bogus students and colleges and stated that the number of student visas has reduced by 26% in the year to September.  Whilst she also indicated that there would now be a period of stability on student migration policy, as well as confirming that no cap on student numbers would be introduced, she did announce that the UKBA”s interviewing programme would be rolled out more widely in the next financial year.  Starting with the high-risk countries the Home Secretary anticipates that the number of interviews will increase to 100,000, starting with students but extending out to other visa routes into Britain.  A move, it seems, that will take us back to the days when entry clearance officers had the ability to use their discretion when considering applications.

Other areas of focus for the new year include the likelihood of introducing transitional controls on new member states joining the EU as well as taking action to restrict the demand for European workers by British employers.

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