Foreign care workers won’t be able to bring their families to Britain and low-paid locals won’t be able to bring in foreign-born spouses, as part of a tough package of measures the government is billing as the UK’s “biggest ever clampdown” on legal migration.
James Cleverly, who replaced Suella Braverman as home secretary last month, has announced a five-point plan to reduce legal migration by 300,000. Net migration last year was a record 745,000, a tripling since Brexit.
The measures are aimed at satisfying Tory backbench demands to get tougher on immigration, as the anti-immigration Reform Party, founded by Nigel Farage, runs at 10 per cent in the polls.
The plan includes a previously-announced ban on students bringing in dependants, which is due to start in January. Home Office modelling suggests it will cut immigration by 140,000.
Health and social care workers will also be banned from bringing family. Doctors and nurses working in the National Health Service will be exempt. Government models suggest this measure will cut immigration by 100,000, as Mr Cleverly suggested the system was being “abused” in the care sector.
Skilled workers will need to earn a minimum £38,700 (€45,100) to get a visa, a near doubling of the current threshold. British workers will also need to earn £38,700 to bring in foreign dependents.
Mr Cleverly is also scrapping a rule that allowed some employers to hire foreign workers at 20 per cent below the going rate. He is also launching a review of a scheme that allowed foreign students to stay on for two years after graduation.
Mr Cleverly said he was taking “more robust action” than any of his predecessors. The Unison union, which represents many care workers, said the plans were “cruel” and meant only to “placate the far right”. Labour’s Yvette Cooper said the government’s approach to immigration was “chaotic”.
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