New UK Government: How will Visas to UK be Affected?

Prior to the UK election results, the Conservatives leader, David Cameron, and Liberal Democrats leader, Nick Clegg, clashed over their intended Immigration policies.

Unsurprisingly, Cameron’s conservatives want to limit Immigration numbers into Britain while the Liberal democrats had plans to call an amnesty on illegal immigrants. Now that the two opposing leaders have been forced into a power sharing deal it will be interesting to see what policy changes may result.

David Cameron

The conservative’s pre election policy vowed to reduce Immigration back to levels seen in the 1990s, with a plan to place an annual limit on the numbers of non-EU economic migrants. This would of course include Australian, New Zealand and South African migrants coming to the UK for work.

In addition, the Conservatives’ policy indicates they will continue to work on the prevention of illegal migrants; they will promote integration into British society through language tests for marriage visas and also tighten controls on the student visa system which they believe to be the biggest hole in their border control.

It does however seem rather unlikely that any UK government would target a particular country in order to reduce overall migration

They have been careful not to say exactly what the annual limit on immigration will be or how they intend to achieve this reduction. But it has been suggested by some tabloids that they may target Australians entering the UK for work purposes on skilled visas or youth mobility visas – roughly 3800 and 13,000 people respectively on an annual basis.

It does however seem rather unlikely that any UK government would target a particular country in order to reduce overall migration. Rather, it is likely that a change in UK immigration policy may impair the foreign nationals of a particular country to satisfy new visa rules as was the case with the introduction of the Youth Mobility Scheme (YMS) and nationals of South Africa.

Nick Clegg

The policy of the YMS states

Sponsors under the youth mobility scheme are the national governments of the participating countries. Participation in the scheme will be limited to those countries that can meet the criteria for the scheme which relate to level of immigration risk, returns arrangements and reciprocal opportunities for young United Kingdom nationals.

Considering that in 2009 over 40,000 UK citizens entered Australia on working holiday visas it is hard to imagine that a UK government would want to restrict the number of Australians entering the UK on the comparable YMS visa when the current policy above infers that there is real value for young UK nationals in the reciprocal opportunities provided by countries like Australia.

“It’s very hard to predict what visa policies this new Government may change, if anything.  Should they decide to do away with the YMS visa, it’s unlikely that any forewarning will be given. The category could be discontinued overnight and my suggestion would be that those people considering traveling to the UK on a YMS visa make an application without delay!” says Sam Hopwood from 1st Contact Australia.

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