On Wednesday 6th April, the £35k salary threshold preventing non-EEA Tier 2 migrants wishing to remain in the UK came into force. More specifically, skilled workers who do not earn the threshold amount in 5 years of their visa expiry will be deported, regardless of the UK's need for their skills.
The law applies a blanket £35k threshold that attempts to implement the government’s aim of reducing net migration by simplifying a migrant’s worth to an arbitrary, monetary value. It disregards the contribution these skilled workers make to society. From the thousands of pounds they contribute through taxes, to the enhancement of society they provide through work including research, teaching and healthcare, it is undeniable that their value cannot - and should not - be based on their annual salary.
What better way to celebrate one of the most nonsensical changes to immigration law than to hold a ‘stick it to the man’ party. Stop35k.org’s special DeParty fundraiser was a wonderfully peculiar mix of ironic joviality, no doubt lubricated by the pub setting, whilst passionately expressing the hard-hitting issues of deportation facing those affected by the regulation. At first, a mere trickle of individuals who came to support the organisation arrived, which shortly swelled into a raucous crowd of well-wishers, affected migrants, as well as television crews and journalists from the BBC, Al Jazeera and other media outlets.
Despite the lack of seating and difficulty of moving through the crowd, everyone was in high spirits. A number of people took to the stage and told their moving stories. A particularly striking moment of melancholy and laughter came when one of the speakers performed a beautifully crafted poem. As a final send-off, cabaret artist, Lolo Brow, picked two strangers from the crowd to conduct a marriage ceremony in honour of highlighting the absurdity of marriage being casually bandied around as a solution against deportation.
For my part, I spoke about the effects of the £35k threshold on traditionally underrepresented minority communities, specifically the Filipino migrant community. It is widely acknowledged that the staff shortfall in the NHS is heavily subsidised by non-EEA healthcare workers. The largest demographic of Filipino workers affected are nurses. Despite their importance, it took a hard-fought battle by unions and the NHS to get nurses on the Shortage Occupation List, exempting them from the rule. However there is no guarantee that they will remain there, and their inclusion on the list bares no significance for other skilled workers contributing in the various industries affected.
Let’s keep the momentum going
In solidarity with those affected by the £35k rule, Kanlungan Filipino Consortium is fundraising to continue the campaign against this ill-thought-out, blanket law. Two runners, Ian Day and Katrina Macapagal will be running 26.2 miles (42km) in the London Marathon in the hopes of raising awareness for the campaign. They will be adorning the Stop35k logo on their bibs and have already been spreading the word on their donation and social media pages.
To support them, please donate and help them reach their £2000 goal by clicking: