Research by Home Office suggests that the new £35,000 salary threshold for skilled (Tier 2) workers could cost the British economy between £181million and £575million in the first year alone, with other organisations predicting £761million, says campaign group Stop35K.
Under a policy introduced by Home Secretary Theresa May in 2012, from April 2016, skilled workers residing in the UK for more than six years under a Tier 2 visa will have to earn £35,000 or more to remain in the country.
The policy is meant to ensure that only ‘the best and brightest’ among non-EU migrants can remain permanently.
Apart from costing the British economy huge sums of money, the policy will slash the number of skilled workers in key sectors such as health, education, charity and creative industries.
The Stop35k campaign aims to raise awareness on the economic and social damages of the new policy, while calling for occupation-specific pay-thresholds that account for differences between industries.
The campaign is urging the government to allow current Tier 2 skilled workers to be assessed for settlement under the conditions for settlement that applied when they were granted their work visa, so that employers and employees are protected from sudden changes to the thresholds.
A petition started by the campaigners has already raised more than 90,000 signatures.
The Stop35k campaign has also launched a new website collecting research, details and personal stories of those who will be affected.
Josh Harbord, the Campaign manager, said: “I started the petition in the hopes that my friends, who were scared and upset by the prospect of imminent deportation due to not earning enough money, would feel reassured that UK residents were prepared to speak up on their behalf.”
Kelly, a Teacher from USA who will be affected by the new rule said: “In two more years I will have lived in the UK for 9 years. I will have paid £56,000 into the university system. I will have paid approximately £108,000 in rent. I will have been teaching British teenagers for 6 years. But I will not be making 35k in two years. I will have out stayed my legal welcome. If I am forced to leave, I will be leaving my school. I could be leaving my friends. My cat which I adopted from a shelter here. I could be leaving the love of my life – I do not want to leave my life. Where I was born is not where I have built my life or found myself – why should I be sent home over an arbitrary threshold? I teach to love and accept and help. The government doesn’t.”
Alyson, a Musician and Entrepreneur who will also be affected by the new rule added: “I must continue to do my work here I have worked so very hard to create more FOR London, to enrich this beautiful city. I plead for the government to find another way to address their immigration concerns that will not kick me out of my own home.”
Click here to sign the petition opposing the £35k pay threshold