Anger among UK musicians 'forgotten' in Brexit deal
Mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly has garnered some of Britain's highest honours for her work. But such recognition is in stark contrast to the treatment experienced by musicians post-Brexit, she says.
Connolly called the government's failure to prioritise an agreement allowing musicians visa-free travel to Europe, after Britain finally quit all EU structures at the end of 2020, "absolutely outrageous".
While Britain insists the blame lies with EU inflexibility during last year's trade negotiations, Brussels argues that London was fixated on ending freedom of movement for EU citizens coming to Britain.
Last week British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he shared the performers' frustration, adding the government was "working flat out" to address the issue with individual EU governments.
"Some of them are much, much better and forward leaning than others. Others we've still got progress to make," he said.
Annetts said the effect of the restrictions had been temporarily hidden by the Covid pandemic, with venues shuttered and travel curtailed. However, serious damage had already been done, she added.
"There is, at the moment, a cultural shift going on, because UK musicians are now seen as problematic," she said.
The implications would be "massive" for Britain's creative industries and the economy, Annetts added. "In terms of the standing of the UK, I don't think that can be underestimated."
02 March 2021
UK set to shake up Tech visa rules
The UK is working on a fast-track visa program for home-grown tech companies, designed to protect their ability to attract global talent.
According to a report from City AM, the program was triggered by a report from the former Worldpay boss Ron Kalifa.
International workers make up almost half (42 percent) of the UK's tech workforce, the Kalifa review states. Of that number, more than a quarter (28 percent) are workers from EU member states.
"Brexit gives Paris, Berlin and other European fintech hubs a window to capitalize on uncertain messaging. In order to sustain its global dominance in fintech, the UK needs to strengthen its position on immigration or risk a significant shortage in human capital," the report said.
Speaking to the Financial Times, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said such a program would be an “excellent idea” that would help “scale up” the industry. He said the UK leaving the EU could be seen as a great opportunity for the technology industry.
"We want to be innovative, entrepreneurial, agile. We can do things differently after Brexit. We want to be open to the world, we want to be world class at things," said Sunak.
The Kalifa review also urged the UK government to pledge at least $1.4 billion as a scale-up fund.
06 February 2021
Au Pairs under threat from new UK Immigration Rules
The Au Pair childcare programme of the UK is at risk of disappearing as a result of new post-Brexit immigration rules, the industry trade association has warned.
An estimated 45,000 families in the UK, including many key workers such as doctors, nurses and police, rely on the longstanding au pair cultural exchange programme for affordable childcare.
However, with the end of EU free movement this year, au pairs have been categorised as “skilled workers” under the UK’s points-based immigration system alongside nannies and childcare workers, with new entrants needing to earn a minimum salary of £20,480 a year.
Mr. Jamie Shackell, chair of the British Au Pair Agencies Association (BAPAA), said the new regime was not suitable for the au pair system, which was originally conceived as a cultural exchange programme for 18 to 26-year-olds.
Before Brexit, au pairs — more than 90 per cent of whom came from the EU and European Economic Area countries — received board and lodging, a contribution towards English language classes and £100 a week “pocket money” in exchange for about 25 hours of childcare per week.
Shackell is pressing the Home Office to amend the visa rules to enable agencies to sponsor au pairs on behalf of families who could then pay them via a payroll company. She estimated au pairs would then cost about £180 a week.
“If the Home Office doesn’t provide a simpler visa route for au pairs, then the programme will be lost. It is inappropriate to categorise au pairs as skilled workers as they have no formal childcare qualifications — they don’t belong in that bracket,” she said.
She added that the simplest route would be to reinstate the au pair visa that was scrapped in 2008 because it had essentially been made redundant by EU free movement rules.
04 January 2021
68,000 EU migrants apply to stay in region despite Brexit
Home Office figures reveal that by the end of September 2020, 68,210 people successfully applied to continue living in the four boroughs, including 14,010 Poles, 12,830 Italians and 12,710 Romanians.
European Union nationals wishing to continue living in the UK must apply under the EU Settlement Scheme by June 30.
Those who have lived in the UK for five years and meet the criteria can receive settled status and remain in the country indefinitely, while those living here for less time can receive pre-settled status, which allows them to remain for a further five years.
Across the UK, 3.9 million applications have been made under the scheme since it was launched – 56 per cent of applicants received settled status, 41.6 per cent pre-settled status and 0.4 per cent were refused.
Sunder Katwala, director of British Future, said new rules requiring immigrants to meet a £25,400 salary threshold may pose issues for some sectors, although foreign graduates will be allowed to work after they study.
He said: “Despite the additional bureaucratic processes and visa fees, EU migration will continue for graduate professionals in areas like law, science and academia.
“The Government has committed to allowing the NHS to recruit the staff it needs – but has not done the same for social care.
“The most significant impacts are likely to be in social care and hospitality, for roles paying below those salary bands.”
20 November 2020
Thousands more health workers to benefit from UK visa extensions
More than 6,000 frontline health workers will have their visas extended for a year for free, including doctors, nurses and paramedics.
Thousands of vital health professionals and their family dependants will have their visas extended for a year, free of all fees and charges, Home Secretary Priti Patel has announced today.
This will mean that more than 6,000 doctors, nurses, paramedics, midwives, occupational therapists, psychologists as well as a range of allied health professionals will be able to continue their crucial work in the fight against coronavirus.
This follows an announcement earlier in the year offering free visa extensions for health professionals whose visas were due to expire between 31 March 2020 and 1 October 2020. Today’s decision will extend that offer from 1 October 2020 until 31 March 2021.
This extension will cover healthcare professionals working in the NHS and the independent health and care sector. Their visas will be extended for a year, free of all fees and charges, including the Immigration Health Surcharge.
Those benefiting from this extension will need to complete a simple online form to verify their identity. We will also ask their employers to confirm their eligibility.
Whilst this offer focuses on key frontline health professionals, it is just one part of the unprecedented range of measures taken to support the NHS and wider health and care sector during the coronavirus pandemic.
Healthcare workers who are EU, other EEA or Swiss citizens, or their family members, also have until 30 June 2021 to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme, which has already granted status and secured the rights in UK law of more than 3.9 million people.
4 October 2020
Canadians looking to move to London despite rise in coronavirus cases in the U.K.
Sultana heads up Canadians in London, a social group for expats with more than 6,500 members. He told CTV News Channel he has seen more Canadians working to move to the U.K. as much of the world enters its second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
"What would probably surprise you is how many people I still see joining the group every day saying we're making a move to London, we're just trying to find out about the quarantine situation and what we can do," Sultana said in an interview from London on Sunday.
The U.K. reported 12,872 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, bringing the total number of confirmed infections there to more than 480,000.
Sultana explained that while the rise in coronavirus cases is concerning, Canadian expats have been struggling with the decision to return home since the pandemic started.
"It's a real mixed message that we're seeing… It's not so much seen on a day-by-day basis that people see the spike and they go, 'OK, I have to immediately change the plans that I have.' It's more a case of it's been an ongoing situation since March, really," he said.
As many as 95,000 Canadians were estimated to have been living in the U.K. in 2019, according to data from Britain's Office for National Statistics.
17 August 2020
The UK's moral panic over migrants isn’t being treated as a crisis, but as a political opportunity
Polling by data bods at YouGov shows that nearly three quarters of Brits think that Channel crossings are a serious issue, and about 70% supporting the use of military personnel to prevent migrants from making an attempt to cross the water.
Despite France handling nearly three times more asylum applications than the UK, the majority of respondents are convinced that Britain has done more than its fair share to accommodate refugees when compared to other European countries.
Public opinion is completely unmoored from the facts on the ground.
The truth is that neither the UK nor Europe as a whole are uniquely overburdened by refugees. 85% of refugees are hosted by developing countries, often ones neighbouring the places that those claiming asylum have just fled.
What’s more, Britain trails behind Spain, France, Germany and Greece in terms of raw numbers of asylum claims.
The fraction of asylum seekers who do want to come to the UK, and travel through other European countries to do so, aren’t coming to our shores to live large off the public purse and/or steal our jobs.
Asylum seekers aren’t even allowed to apply for permission to work unless they’ve been waiting on their initial claim for 12 months.
And the sums received in benefits aren’t what you’d call princely either: 44,000 asylum seekers are entitled to just £37 a week, which is equal to just over a fiver a day to pay for food, travel, and other necessities.
The rowdy chorus of paranoiac hallooing provides a pretext for politicians like Priti Patel to erode the human rights of those seeking asylum in the UK.
Rather than expanding avenues for safe migration, the Home Secretary has vowed to make the Channel “unviable” – i.e. more dangerous, for migrants who attempt to make the crossing.
Boris Johnson has floated the idea of changing the law to make it more difficult for asylum seekers to lodge claims in the UK rather than France, while anonymous Whitehall sources speak darkly of “lefty lawyers” undermining the government by insisting on the rights afforded to their clients by law.
28 May 2020
Coronavirus: Home Office gave just 100 visas to come to the UK, in April 2020
The UK government issued just 100 visas to come to the UK in April after application centres were closed due to the coronavirus, official figures show.
It compares to an average of more than 258,000 a month in the year to March. Three-quarters of those last year were for visits, 6% were to work, 2% were for family, and 7% for other reasons.
New statistics lay bare how the COVID-19 pandemic and travel curbs have dramatically halted the flow of people into the UK, including migrants, asylum seekers, refugees, tourists and business passengers.
The number of passengers arriving in the UK by air fell from around 7.1 million in January to 3.8 million in March, according to a Home Office report.
Visa applications and decisions have been severely curtailed by the closure of UK government visa application centres by the end of March. Only around 250 applications were recorded in April, and only 100 of them were accepted.
The figures also show the number of visa extensions in April was down 77% on a year earlier. The government recently announced overseas nationals unable to return home because of the pandemic could stay until 31 July, though urged temporary visa holders to return home “as soon as it is safe.”
1 April 2020
Work visas for Indian, foreign doctors to be extended, due to coronavirus outbreak
In a relief to foreign doctors, including from India, whose visas were set to expire in October this year, the UK government has extended the deadline by one year amid the country's fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The UK government on Tuesday
confirmed that foreign doctors, whose visas are set to expire before October this year will get an automatic extension for one year as they battle the coronavirus pandemic for the country's National Health Service (NHS).
UK Home Secretary Priti Patel announced the extension, which will apply to around 2,800 migrant doctors, nurses and paramedics employed by the NHS whose visa is due to expire before October 1. "Doctors, nurses and paramedics from all over the world are
playing a leading role in the NHS' efforts to tackle coronavirus and save lives. We owe them a great deal of gratitude for all that they do," said Patel.
"I don't want them distracted by the visa process. That is why I have automatically extended their visas - free of charge - for a further
year," the Indian-origin minister said. The free of charge extension will also apply to their family members, demonstrating how valued overseas NHS staff are to the UK, the Home Office said.
A week after the United Kingdom officially ceased to be a European Union Member Country, David McAllister, the Chair of the EP-UK Coordination Group has handed to the EU parliament a draft resolution on the proposed mandate for negotiations for a new partnership with the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
The resolution, among others, touches topics related to the freedom of movement for Britons traveling to the EU and EU nationals to the UK.
According to this motion, both sides should establish a reciprocal visa-free arrangement, for purposes like short-term study, stay for research, study and training purposes and youth exchanges.
“The European Parliament, (59) Considers that the Agreement should provide for visa-free travel for short-term visits, including short-term work-related trips, based on full reciprocity and non-discrimination, and should establish conditions for entry and stay for research, study and training purposes and youth exchanges,” the draft resolution reads.
1 January 2020
Visa applications: Home Office refuses to reveal 'high risk' countries
Campaign groups have criticised the Home Office after it refused to release details of which countries are deemed a “risk” in an algorithm that filters UK visa applications.
Campaigners for immigrants’ rights were sent a fully redacted list of nations in different categories of “risk”, which were entirely blacked out, on a Home Office response to their legal challenge over the artificial intelligence programme.
In defence of its use of the AI system a Home Office spokesperson said the programme fully complied with equality legislation.
But the Home Office defended the use of the AI tool, stressing that the final decision on entry to the UK was made by immigration officers.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “As the public would expect, we have always used processes that enable UK Visas and Immigration to allocate its high volume of cases in an efficient way.
“The streaming tool, first developed in 2015, attributes a risk rating to an application based on a number of criteria, including nationality, and this rating is used to allocate work to caseworkers, not decide the application. Every application is decided by an entry clearance officer.
“The tool complies fully with the relevant legislation under the Equality Act 2010.”
The Home Office spokesperson added that UK Visas and Immigration received more than 3.3 million visa applications in the year ending June 2019, of which just under 2.9 million were granted.
1 December 2019
EU and Commonwealth visitors must apply for new US-style visas to enter the UK after Brexit, Priti Patel says
Visitors to the UK from the European Union and the Commonewealth will have to comply with a US-style electronic visa system after Brexit, under plans set out today by Home Secretary Priti Patel.
The plans for a new Electronic Travel Authorisation system (ETA) will make it easier for border guards to screen arrivals and block threats from entering the UK, the Tories say.
It is part of a five-strong plan to secure the borders after Brexit and will be launched by Ms Patel and Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, at a border post today.
Other measures include plans to count visitors into and out of the UK and to stop migrants using EU identity cards instead of the more secure passports.
6 November 2019
New UK Post-Study Work Visa Valid for 2 Years
Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, Andrea Leadsom outlines business prospects and innovations in the UK:
"I agree wholeheartedly with Management Today in championing UK business, particularly at a time when many seem to have forgotten the fantastic strengths we have, as the world’s fifth biggest economy.
We have the most creative financial services sector anywhere, we speak the international business language, and three of the world’s top 10 universities are here, yet some can only picture doom and gloom. I think we need far more self-belief in our abilities as a country. We can build the low carbon, hi-tech, business-backing United Kingdom we all want to see.
From our universities to our creative industries, from offshore wind to outer space, Britain is leading the way globally. Brexit represents a fantastic opportunity to build on these successes to do even more, even better. So here are my five reasons:
1. International talent: UK business benefits from a talented pool of highly skilled international workers. Brexit will allow us not only to support the talent that we have here, but also to attract the best minds from around the world. For example, in September we announced a fast-track visa route for scientists, ensuring the UK remains a global science superpower. We have also launched a two year post-study work visa so that overseas university students can stay and apply what they’ve learned in the UK.
2. Clean energy: As the first major economy to legislate to end our contribution to global climate change, we are perfectly positioned to seize the opportunities of the global shift to cleaner technology, with annual exports from our green economy to be worth up to £170bn by 2030.
3. New trade deals: We will reform regulation of emerging technologies and pursue free trade opportunities with the North American and Asia-Pacific economies to develop renewable energy, clean growth and electric vehicles, and to boost foreign direct investment. This will give British companies the freedom to explore new markets and secure investment from every corner of the globe.
4. Investment in our economy: We will replace EU funding programmes with domestic ones that are more focused on UK priorities, ensuring Britain’s businesses and regions have the support they need to thrive and expand productivity after Brexit.
5. The labour market: I am determined to see the highest standards for workers’ rights after we leave the EU. In the Queen’s Speech, the government pledged to take steps to make work fairer, including delivering on the commitments set out in our Good Work Plan. This will increase fairness and flexibility in the labour market by strengthening workers’ ability to get redress for poor treatment and increase transparency and clarity for staff and employers, taking account of modern working relationships and routines."
14 October 2019
UK commits to vague "Aussie-style" visa points system
If - as ministers have promised - a points-based immigration system based on the current Australian system is introduced, the way it would work will not be known until the government's independent expert body, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), reports in January and ministers then agree on exactly how the post-Brexit scheme will operate.
Outlining Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government's legislative proposals for the coming session of parliament, the Queen said a new immigration bill would "lay the foundation for a fair, modern and global immigration system".
She added, "My government remains committed to ensuring that resident European citizens, who have built their lives in and contributed so much to the United Kingdom, have the right to remain."
The Australian points system is based on such characteristics as applicants' age (25-32 being the highest-scoring group), educational qualifications, language proficiency, work experience and occupation. Unlike the current UK system for non-EEA applicants, it is not dependent on the person already having a job offer and, hence, is not reliant on a minimum salary threshold.
"The points system (in Australia) has been used over the decades to increase migration above the level that would be achieved by relying only on employer sponsorship," says Madeleine Sumption, director of the Migration Observatory at Oxford University and a member of the MAC.
"However, it is not possible to say whether or how much introducing an ‘Australian-style points system’ to the UK would increase migration, without knowing how this system would be designed. A points system is simply a way of ranking and prioritising applicants for work visas.
18 September 2019
The Post-study work visa can bring more knowledge to the UK
The government’s announcement that it is to reintroduce the two-year post-study work visa for international students is a shot in the arm not just for universities, but for our businesses, services and communities. In the debate over immigration to the UK, economic impact inevitably dominates the discussion of the value that international students and workers contribute. However, it is the knowledge, skills and experience that they bring, share and embed, along with a broadening of our cultural diversity, which should really be valued most.
The appeal of our universities remains strong across the globe. However, the withdrawal of the UK’s post-study work offer in 2012 has not afforded the same degree of security that some of our competitors in, for example, the US, Australia and Canada could offer their international graduates. And it has limited the opportunities to work with our world-leading companies and undertake the pioneering research that our universities have become synonymous with.
Without that security, and the time to begin and develop a career here, what incentive would there be to retain their abilities here at the end of their degree? This “new route” for international students here in the UK, as the prime minister has described it, has multiple benefits. It means our employers have a greater pool of talent to select from, helping to meet the skills needs of the country.
UK needs to boost India relations to seal trade deals
The UK has fallen behind other countries in its share of India’s fast-growing trade, in large part due to Britain’s restrictive immigration policies, according to a new report. The Commons foreign affairs select committee described the UK’s neglect of longstanding ties with India as an “expensive missed opportunity”, noting Britain has slipped from being its second largest trade partner in 1998-99 to 17th in 2018-19.The committee’s report highlighted the difficulty the UK will face in building new trade relationships outside the EU after Brexit, unless it also becomes more open to overseas workers, students and tourists.
“While the Global Britain strategy is barely being communicated in India, the ‘hostile environment’ message is being heard loud and clear,” said the report, referring to tension between prime minister Theresa May’s strategy for post-Brexit trade and her target to cut annual net migration to below 100,000.
MPs on the committee called on the government to be honest about priorities, since these goals were incompatible. India’s government has made it clear that it will be in no rush to reach a trade deal with the UK without significant concessions on movement of people.
Sam Lowe, a trade expert at the Centre for European Reform, a think-tank, has argued that “if the UK is to become a global services trading hub, it will need to create an immigration regime which prioritises enticing people in over keeping them out”.
Britons Appreciate the Advantages of Immigration more than Europeans
Britons appreciate the benefits of immigration more than their European counterparts, a survey has shown, despite the assumption that the UK was most hostile towards immigrants in light of Brexit.
The YouGov-Cambridge Globalism survey found that nearly half of all British people believe that immigrants have either a positive or neutral impact on the country.
Across other European countries, the numbers were lower. In Germany, 24% believed the benefits of immigration outweighed the costs. This dropped further to 21 percent in France and 19 percent in Denmark.
Nearly a third, 28%, of Britons believed that the benefits of immigration outweighed the costs. 20 percent believed the costs and benefits were about equal, and 16 percent were not sure.
37% of Britons felt that the costs of immigration outweighed the benefits. This was the second lowest amount in any big European country after Poland. Elsewhere, 50 percent of Italians believed immigration to be negative, as well as 49 percent of Swedes and 42 percent of French and 40 percent of Germans.
Britons Will Not Need a Visa to Switzerland After Brexit, Even for Long Stays
The Federal Council of Switzerland has decided to maintain its good relations with the United Kingdom, in terms of free movement, even after the latter’s departure from the EU. In the latest meeting held on March 22, the Swiss Federal Council agreed on three decisions in the field of migration, in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Among others, the council decided that UK nationals would be exempt from the visa requirement to enter Switzerland after Brexit, even for long-term stays.
According to a press release of the Swiss government, the EU is believed to exempt Britons from the requirement to get a short-stay visa to enter the Schengen Area, part of which Switzerland is. However, Switzerland has decided to take a step further and drop even long stay visas for British citizens, after getting a confirmation that Britain will do the same for Swiss citizens.
EU offers Britons visa-free travel for short trips, if UK reciprocates
The European Union plans to allow UK citizens visa-free travel after Brexit, if they are travelling to Europe on a short trip. The European Council will negotiate the terms and then submit the legislation to the European Parliament to pass the legislation.
Visa-Free travel would apply to British citizens for a period of 90-180 days, who are travelling to any of the 26 countries, with open borders (The Schengen Area). The Council stipulates that 'Visa exemption is granted on the condition of reciprocity'. The UK has previously said it does not intend to require a visa from EU citizens traveling to Britain for short stays after Brexit. But if that changes, the EU would "commit to act without delay" to impose reciprocal visa requirements, it warns.
However, the European Commission has also confirmed that as of 2021, UK visitors to the EU will have to pay €7 (about $8) for the European Travel Information and Authorization Scheme (ETIAS), which can be bought online ahead of travel. This will last for three years and ensure smooth entry at EU borders and airports, similar to the current ESTA scheme that many tourists use to travel to the United States.