According to the new rule skilled workers from non-EU countries who come into the country on Tier-2 visas will face deportation after five years unless they can show minimum annual earnings of £35,000. Previously, after five years on a Tier-2 work visa, the individual could apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (or ILR) in the U.K. The income threshold used to be £20,800 – around £5,000 less than the average UK salary.
A possible 40,000 skilled workers — teachers, business and IT professionals, health sector workers and charity workers, a majority of them from India and South Asia — who have been living and working in the UK, paying their taxes and contributing their skills and earnings to the economy will be affected by the new rule.
There has been a major backlash to the rule, with a petition against it to the government quickly gathering over 100,000 signatures, the number needed to ensure a discussion on the issue in the House of Commons. The opposition has coalesced under the Stop35K campaign.
“I love my work and don’t want to leave,” said Shannon Harmon, an American charity worker who is affected by the rule. “Britain will lose skills massively and people will be deterred from working here.”
The Migration Advisory Committee set up by the government has predicted that in the next 10 year this measure will cost the UK £761 million. The order is set to increase the price of healthcare, education and business start-ups.
The Home Office claims the rule will “break the link between work and staying in the UK permanently” and boost employment for UK workers.
“These reforms will ensure that businesses are able to attract the skilled migrants they need, but we also want them to get far better at recruiting and training UK workers first,” the Home Office said in a statement.