WHAT IS THIS ALL ABOUT?
If you are a skilled worker in the UK, your legal status depends on your Tier 2 Skilled Worker visa. This work visa usually expires after 5 years, after which you must either leave the UK or apply for settlement (known as Indefinite Leave to Remain or ILR). Since April 2016, if you apply for settlement then you need to earn over £35,000. If you earn less than this, you will not be allowed to remain in the UK even if you have lived here for years, contributing to the UK culture and economy.
People sometimes confuse this legislation with the 30,000 entry threshold. The £30k entry threshold restricts people from coming to the UK to work unless they make £30k as a starting salary. But the £35k settlement threshold punishes people who have already been working and contributing to the UK economy for several years.
Tier 2 migrants working in shortage occupations and who are PhD level occupants will be exempt.
Who will this affect?
What will this law cost the UK?
What are we asking the Government for?
The law affects anyone who is on a Tier 2 visa and:
Does not make an annual wage of £35,000
Is not on the shortage occupation list
Obtained their first Tier 2 visa after April 2011
Does not already have Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)
If the above applies to you, a friend, or a family member then the £35,000 settlement threshold affects you.
If you intend to move to the UK at any time in the future, this affects you.
If you employ or intend to employ a non-EU skilled worker, this affects you.
If your children are in school, this affects you.
If you rely on a professional carer or the NHS, this affects you.
The MAC predicts that in ten years alone, this will cost the UK GDP over £761million. The Home Office’s own estimates predict that it will be lower, between £181million and £575million.
The price of healthcare is set to rise sharply – although nurses are temporarily on the Shortage Occupation List (SOL), other healthcare occupations like carers and administrators are not, and NHS trusts will need to introduce dramatic training schemes to compensate for the loss of skilled workers. The education industry will also suffer – although maths, chemistry and physics teachers are on the SOL, many others are not.
The unreasonable pay threshold makes the UK much less attractive to any teachers or healthcare the UK attempts to recruit. The same is also true for any other skilled workers the UK attempts to recruit, who will refuse to participate in or interact with a country that discourages their presence.
We can prevent this if we convince the Home Office to rethink the pay threshold.
Since the Government is committed to tighter migration controls, we realise that asking the Home Office to abandon the threshold completely is unrealistic. They are unlikely to repeal legislation already in place, so the best thing we can do is create enough loopholes to save as many people as possible.
The Migration Advisory Committee that originally recommended the £35,000 pay threshold in their 2011 report has since advised the government that an occupation-specific threshold would be fairer to individual industries. They have quoted the many businesses and government organisations that would also prefer this, despite the extra bureaucracy it would involve.
It is unfair to expect nurses to earn the same as, for example, international accountants. This is why nurses have been included on the Shortage Occupation List (SOL). But the average wage of many other industries and occupations is also below £35,000.
We are asking for the Home Office to research industry-specific pay thresholds that better represent each industry.
We are also asking for the Home Office to offer protection, security and reassurance to employers and employees. They can do this by asking Tier 2 skilled workers to satisfy the conditions for settlement that applied when they were granted their work visa. This protects skilled workers from sudden and unexpected changes in immigration policy.
Regions of the UK depend on immigration to thrive, and some regions need immigrants desperately for economic reasons: Scotland's economy and public services will depend more on migration as time goes on; London's businesses and industries have always relied on the international community. We are calling for employees of organisations in these regions to be exempt from the £35,000 threshold.
You can find out more about what else we are doing on our 'How To Help?' page, including petitions, letter-writing campaigns, fundraising efforts and other projects.
Who is opposing this?
There are countless businesses that have written open letters to oppose this policy. Migration watchdogs, trade unions, NHS trusts have also made efforts to resist the negative impacts. This has resulted in the Home Office adding nurses to the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) temporarily.
There are several other petitions available online, set up by people who have also realised that the policy is unfair, irrational and dangerous. Despite all of this, Stop35k are the first to be so thoroughly committed to this cause. We intend to nurture and encourage all of these wildly varied sources of resistance, collecting them into one concentrated effort.
Simple ways you can help
Donate! We need donations to keep the site running and would like to pay for the time of our specialists on the case. We also need to fund publicity, to alert more Tier 2 skilled workers about the danger they're in!
Write your elected Member of Parliament. This should only take ten minutes
Share our campaign everywhere you can!
If you or someone you know is affected by this settlement threshold, tell us your story, we need to hear from you.