This requirement, which came into force on 6 April 2016, has caused a great deal of concern, particularly around its potential impact on public services. The related petition against this policy received over 112,000 signatures and was debated in Parliament on 7th March 2016.
As you are aware, the threshold applies to non-EEA nationals who are applying to settle in the UK following five years of continuous residency and work, with exemptions for those in PhD-level jobs and those undertaking work listed on the UK’s Shortage Occupation List.
This policy, in my view, affects the very people that we should be welcoming to the UK – those that are filling skills gaps on which our businesses and public services rely – and serious concerns remain over the effect that the threshold could have on a number of industries. It would mean that – on the Government’s own estimates – 48% of migrant nurses, 37% of migrant primary school teachers and 35% of migrant IT and software professionals would be unable to stay in the UK.
The Government’s current approach to immigration is neither sensible nor sustainable, and I fear it is leading to a clamp down on the areas of migration that even the Government acknowledge are likely to boost our economy, fill skills gaps and support public services.
Indeed, the Government’s own impact assessment of the £18,600 settlement income threshold found that the “best estimate” impact could be a loss to the UK economy of £288 million over 10 years, and that it would have little or no impact on net migration.