Immigration lawyer warns against proposed visa changes

Jamie Kerr

An immigration lawyer has warned that proposed changes to the visa rules for skilled workers will stunt Scotland’s economic growth and lead to longer term damage to Scotland’s competitiveness on the international stage.

Jamie Kerr, a specialist immigration partner at Thorntons, has called for an emergency summit of Scottish business leaders to be convened in order to urge the UK government to re-think proposed changes to the UK visa rules for skilled workers.

His call follows on from the publication of a report from the Migration Advisory Committee that proposes significant changes to the immigration rules used by businesses to bring skilled workers to the UK from overseas.

The report is expected to be implemented in full by the UK government within months and proposes a new additional upfront tax on employers who recruit skilled labour from outside the EU.

The “Immigration Skills Surcharge” could be as much as £5,000 per worker and will apply to any UK business recruiting from abroad, even those forced to recruit from abroad due to recognised skill shortages in the UK labour market.

On top of this, the report proposes raising the minimum salary that employers require to pay migrants from £20,800 to £30,000.

Mr Kerr said: “These rules are extremely concerning and there is no question that they will stunt Scotland’s economic growth.

“They will act as a barrier to Scotland attracting the international skills and talent that our businesses need to compete internationally and will ultimately cripple our current economic plans to innovate, internationalise, grow and attract inward investment.

“Their only aim is to cut immigration numbers without regard for the consequences that will flow from that. It will affect the public and private sectors; business large and small as well as all of Scotland’s key sectors from engineering to digital, food and drink to healthcare, the third sector and the creative sectors.

“We all need to come together to tell the UK government that Scotland’s economic growth comes before meaningless targets around migration numbers.”

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