Visas granted to 1.4 million migrants ignite debate over PM Rishi Sunak’s immigration strategy
According to forthcoming official figures, the UK’s net migration is projected to surpass one million over a two-year span for the first time in its history. The substantial surge is attributed to more than 1.4 million migrants receiving visas, predominantly from countries outside the EU, for work, study, or refuge from conflict.
The anticipated net growth of the population, calculated as arrivals minus departures, is estimated to exceed 500,000 for the year ending June 2023. This sharp increase follows the previous year’s 660,000 – a figure that’s more than double the annual net migration rate of approximately 250,000 seen before Brexit and ten times that of the 1990s.
This data is likely to bolster the demands for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to further tighten migration controls. Such figures present a challenge to the Government’s 2019 manifesto pledge, where they aimed to lower the net migration rate from its then-level of 245,000.
During a visit to the US this week, Home Secretary Suella Braverman emphasised the mounting pressures of both legal and illegal migrations on the UK’s educational, health, and housing infrastructures. She highlighted the urgency for political leaders to address this burgeoning issue.
Recent policy suggestions from the Home Office entail barring foreign care workers with subpar qualifications from bringing their families to the UK. This is amidst growing apprehensions about potential misuse of the visa pathway.
A report from Migration Watch indicates that the recent relaxation of immigration rules has led to a marked uptick in “skilled” worker visas. A significant proportion of these are allocated to lower-paid roles, notably for foreign care staff.
These revelations and policy proposals have been met with both concern and resistance, particularly from leaders within the NHS and other sectors.
Remarkably, the issuance of visas to foreign workers and their kin has soared from 170,570 in the year ending June 2021 to 538,887 by June 2023. In a similar trend, student visas have jumped from just above 300,000 to nearly 660,000 within the same timeframe.
PM Sunak has already introduced proposals, such as limiting overseas students from bringing their families to the UK, exclusively reserving this right for those in postgraduate research programmes.
However, some Tory MPs are advocating for even more rigorous immigration controls, aiming to significantly truncate net migration numbers before the forthcoming election.
Migration Watch’s recent report criticises the Conservative party for not staying true to its migration promises to the electorate. Interestingly, nearly 60% of the UK’s foreign workforce is engaged in highly skilled roles.
Chair of Migration Watch, Alp Mehmet, expressed his concern about the long-term impacts of the current migration trajectory, declaring, “Allowing immigration to continue at anything like present levels will change the nature of the country within a generation. We need serious action now; there is no time to lose.” Source