Theresa May is facing calls to rethink the “discriminatory” new earnings threshold of £35,000 for non-EU migrants that could starve Britain of vital talent in the teaching, charity and entrepreneur sectors when the changes take effect in April.
Critics have said the new rule will starve lesser-earning industries of talent, cause chaos in the NHS, and send skilled foreign students packing once they’ve finished their studies.
The pay threshold – which is well above the UK average salary of £26,500 – is the first time that the UK has ever imposed economic requirements on the right to settle, which has previously been granted on grounds of family ties and the length of time a person has lived here.
Under the new rules, first announced in 2012, non-EU workers who have lived in the UK for longer than five years will have to prove they have a salary of £35,000 or face deportation.
People most at risk include:
While PhDs and lecturers are exempt, students from outside the European Economic Area, who pay upwards of £30,000 a year to study at UK universities and often graduate as skilled workers, will have to leave
- Start-up entrepreneurs
Discrimination based on income will hit hard new sectors, like tech start-ups, whose staff might be paid less than £35,000. Those sectors are essential to keeping the United Kingdom at the forefront of the global economy.
- Charity sector workers
NGO work is notoriously not as well paid as the private sector – and the brightest and most-qualified candidates for jobs in the voluntary sector may be at risk of deportation thanks to the new earnings threshold
Headteachers’ union NAHT has also questioned the wisdom of deporting well-trained staff while the profession is undergoing a severe recruitment crisis
Nurses are currently exempt from the new rules, but could be at risk if taken off the Shortage Occupation List in future. The NHS has spent millions on recruiting non-EU nurses in recent years
The change is supposed to cut the number of non-Europeans and their dependents settling in the country each year from 60,000 to 20,000.
A petition to get parliament to consider a debate on scrapping the earning threshold is currently gaining traction.
Joshua Harbord, who started the petition, said:
“These aren’t the benefits-scrounging, baby-sprouting terrorists that everyone seems so afraid of. They’re people who have worked in the UK for years, making friends and families, building homes and communities and contributing to this country’s culture and economy.”
At the very least, he would like an answer from the Home Office, and for the population in general to realize it’s impossible to rationalize this insanity.