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United Kingdom, the minimum wage threshold for visas rises

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United Kingdom, the minimum wage threshold for visas rises

LONDON – In the end, Rishi Sunak he gave in. Today is the day of the announcement of a new and harsh clampdown onimmigration by the United Kingdom, which will also affect young unskilled Europeans and Italians. Because the numbers of new entries are record-breaking, despite the Brexit had promised to “regain control of our borders”. Because the polls are going terribly: only today the latest from “ConHome” sinks the Sunak government to a consensus in the country even lower than that of the disastrous Liz Truss who preceded it. Because, despite the defenestration of the hawkish former Home Minister , “Cruella” Braverman, the radical wing of the conservatives applied strong pressure and ultimately succeeded. But above all because on the right there is a party that runs fast, and it is the Reform UK, heir to the far-right Ukip and the Brexit Party. And which, according to numerous polls, has even exceeded 10 percent in voting intentions. Preferences almost all stolen from the Tories.

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Farage’s specter

The patron of this new extremely annoying formation for the conservative party is still him, Nigel Farage. Which, despite currently being in Australia earning €1.5 million in a reality show beast in which he fed on kangaroo testicles, once again forces the Tories to veer decisively to the right.

And so, given that immigration remains the last hope for Sunak to try to win the next 2024 elections, the British government announces new restrictions for migrants. We are not talking about Europeans already regularized and legally resident before 2021 through the so-called Settlement Status, nor about those who land on the coasts of the Channel irregularly, which the Sunak government wants to send to Rwanda. But regular migrants who, from next year, will ask for a work visa: European or non-EU, no difference.

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From 2024, therefore, unskilled workers will be especially affected, the new bugaboo of this country. When in reality there are still a million unfilled jobs, especially in labour, construction and catering, which many Britons don’t want to do. In short, the United Kingdom needs low-cost workers. Yet they are now accused, by the government and also by opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer, of being responsible for the “too low” salaries of the British.

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The threshold for work visas is raised

Therefore, the minimum salary threshold for obtaining a work visa for a foreigner will rise from 26,200 pounds per year (around 30,500 euros) to 38,700 pounds (over 45 thousand euros). Even more than what the undersecretary for Immigration himself, Robert Jenrick, a hawk like Braverman, asked for (35 thousand). A limit that will cause problems especially for young and very young unskilled Europeans and Italians who perhaps, in their free moments, in the summer or to start a career, wanted to work in a restaurant or pub to earn money and learn English. If before Brexit all this was very easy (no visa, no salary threshold, freedom of movement), today it will be even more difficult, if not impossible.

Limits on reunions

Not only. The Sunak government has decided to place further restrictions on family reunification of migrants with regular visas, with the minimum salary threshold of 18,600 set to rise. And even the entry of vital workers for the British public health system (NHS), glorious but now in difficulty and above all with a serious shortage of staff, will be reduced.

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As he recalls Daily Telegraph, in September 2023 there were over 143 thousand foreign doctors and healthcare workers in the NHS, double the same period the previous year. Also because, after Brexit and Covid, many European and Italian doctors and nurses have fled: if in 2009 they were 2.9 percent of the healthcare workforce and 5.6 percent in 2017, in June 2023 they had dropped to 5. 2 percent. A clear reversal of trend.

More generally, in 2022, the United Kingdom set an all-time record for net migration (i.e. the difference between those who entered the country and those who left it): over 745 thousand entries. Triple the pre-Brexit era and a far cry from former Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s promise of 200,000 units a year.

Figures inflated by the arrival of many tens of thousands of refugees in recent years from Afghanistan, Ukraine and Hong Kong. But that’s not the only reason. According to the conservatives, “we issue visas too easily, so there will be no more space and welfare will suffer even more”. Thus, according to Sunak, decisive votes on the right are lost, and for this reason the prime minister and the government have decided to intervene.Even if this choice could prove counterproductive for the British labor market.

In any case, if the overall number of immigrants has significantly increased in recent years in the United Kingdom, that of Europeans across the Channel has visibly decreased. The latter, in their first year of employment in the country, are now not even 100 thousand and were 440 thousand in 2015. While the non-EU workers were 200 thousand 8 years ago and are now almost breaking the 600 thousand mark.

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