Highly skilled migrants who want to work in the UK will have to prove they have thousands of pounds in their bank accounts to support themselves and their families during their first month in Britain before they can apply, new rules published Tuesday November 4, 2008 reveal.
Immigration lawyers warned that the new system would discriminate against developing countries with weak sterling exchange rates.
The main elements of the government's new Australian-style points-based system will be introduced on November 27. Companies will have to be registered as a sponsor with the UK Borders Agency from that date in order to be able to bring new migrant labour into the country.
The detailed Home Office guidance notes for the points-based system confirms that each highly skilled migrant must show that they have in their bank account for at least three months the local equivalent of £2,800 for themselves and £1,600 for each family member or £7,600 for a typical family of four.
Sophie Barrett-Brown, the chair of the immigration law practitioners' association, said this requirement would put barriers in the way of new migrants. The new rules also require the applicant to keep the money in their bank account for at least three months before they apply without ever dropping a penny below the sum. Barrett-Brown said that using the UK Border Agency's own measure of relative income values worldwide the equivalent sum for a typical family of four from Ghana would be £83,600.
The new rules will also require overseas students who want to come to Britain to study for 12 months or more to show they have £9,600 for themselves and £535 for each dependent in addition to the funds to pay their fees in full.
The Home Office had planned that the vast bulk of new migrants - the skilled workers in tier two of the points-based system which replaces work permits - would also have to demonstrate that they have £800 for themselves and £533 for each of their dependants.
But a Home Office spokesman confirmed yesterday that employers may be able to maintain the sponsored migrant during their first month in the UK.
However, this concession will not apply to dependents and the skilled migrants will have to demonstrate that they have £533 a head for each family member coming with them before they can apply.
A Home Office spokesman said that the £2,800 represented a cash reserve for highly skilled migrants to support themselves for just over three months as they were not entitled to public funds.
The student rate of £800 a month followed a British Council recommendation: "We think this is a fair, reasonable amount to require them to have," he said.
Source: The Guardian