UK immigration curbs hurt visa hopefuls

Updated: 2012-07-18 11:13

By Zhang Haizhou (China Daily)

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UK immigration curbs hurt visa hopefuls

Non-EEA applications

Apart from abolishing the post-study work visa, the UK government has also implemented more measures to limit the length of stay for international students, both while studying and after graduation.

For example, only overseas students enrolled in postgraduate courses lasting more than a year are permitted to bring dependents into the country.

The restrictions will also cast a long shadow over workers from countries outside the European Economic Area, a bloc that comprises members of both the EU and the European Free Trade Association. Four categories will be dramatically affected, including high-value immigrants and overseas domestic workers.

"We need to know not just that the right number of people are coming here, but that the right people are coming here. People that will benefit Britain - not just those who will benefit from Britain," said Damian Green, the UK immigration minister.

A number of factors have been cited to explain the introduction of tighter border controls. The most obvious is there have been complaints that immigrants are getting jobs and benefits at the expense of British people at a time when economic growth is still sluggish.

"Unemployment among recent British graduates is now about 20 percent. They already have to compete with European Union graduates. It is inexcusable that tens of thousands of jobs should go to foreign graduates without any requirement to test the local market first," commented Andrew Green, chairman of Migration Watch UK.

The think tank also said that foreign nationals occupy one in five of London's social housing properties, quoting data from the Office for National Statistics indicating that these families live in more than 350,000 council and housing association properties while British nationals occupy 1.5 million.

Green, who called the latest immigration statistics "very disappointing", has suggested that the UK government takes tougher measures in order to meet the targets outlined in the 2010 election campaign.