With the 2015 UK elections set to take place in early May, Tories and Labour are still almost equal in recent polls. There is no clear victor in sight, and it’s uncertain what the UK immigration landscape will look like in a year. In this article we examine the implications of a Tory or Labour victory on UK immigration policy.
The Tory pledge to cut net migration numbers to below 100,000 has been unsuccessful, but they still consider it an important goal. They intend to achieve net migration that is in the tens of thousands and not the hundreds of thousands.
They plan to control immigration numbers by:
- Clamping down on migrants from within the EU that come to the UK to take advantage of the welfare system
- Clamping down on illegal immigration
- Enhancing border security and tightening up immigration rules
- Cracking down on health and benefits tourism
Labour also believes in reducing overall migration and has ridiculed the Tories’ inability to meet their goal. If elected, they intend to implement a 100 day action plan immediately that would:
- Strengthen UK borders with 1000 extra border staff
- Stop people with serious criminal records from entering the UK
- Restore the principle of contribution by stopping people from being able to claim benefits for two years
- Champion integration
- Drive out the exploitation that drives down local wages.
Ultimately, there is not much difference in the overall approach between both parties. One key difference is Labour’s promise to reinstate the Tier 1 (Post-Study Work) visa – allowing international graduates from UK universities to remain and obtain work for a year after graduation.
For non-EU skilled migrant workers, like so many 1st Contacters, there is unlikely to be good news. The Tories have said that they are going to stick to the current cap of 20,700 non-EU skilled migrant workers and 1,000 exceptionally skilled workers and Labour haven’t disputed these numbers.
As we have seen, there will be increasing pressure and restrictions on migration in the coming years. Our advice? If you plan to go to the UK, it is better to apply sooner than later.