Migrants’ Rights Scotland responds to UKBA Settlement consultation

Migrants’ Rights Scotland is highly concerned about the government’s proposals under consultation here, in particular plans to deny the vast majority of non-EU migrants on work-related visas the option to apply for settlement in the UK as well as to remove/restrict many migrants’ rights to work and to a family life in the UK.

Based on discussions with migrants, MCOs, trade unions and academics from across Scotland, we have submitted a response to the settlement consultation outlining major concerns about the proposed changes to immigration rules, which we see as part of various, subsequent changes to the immigration system in the past months, marking a fundamental shift in migration policy based on the government’s fixation with driving down ‘net migration’ to the levels of the 1990s. We object to this agenda, as the government has yet failed to establish how the level of net migration constitutes an adequate indicator for what might be “sustainable immigration” and thus, it should not form the unqualified basis or be the target of immigration policies.

We have further argued that with the proposed changes under consultation here, the government continues to disregard widespread criticism against the current immigration system as well as the recently introduced changes to immigration rules, which fail to consider the varied contexts and needs of different parts of the UK to the detriment, for example, of Scotland. Scotland does not only need to attract migrants but also to ensure that they settle here, thereby contributing to the effective management of Scotland’s decreasing and aging population, keeping services and communities alive and promoting sustainable economic growth.

As the potential impact of the proposed changes on the rights, interests and lives of migrants wishing to enter, continue their stay or settle here are of particular concern to us, we highlighted that realistic opportunities to extend their stay and/or settle in the UK if they wish to do so and to be joined by family members are of fundamental importance to migrants coming here to work and contributing to British society and economy throughout their time here. In our opinion, the government’s plans unfairly focus on those it considers the “brightest and the best” (new Tier 1), while curtailing the rights and interests of migrants coming under Tier 2, Tier 5 and the domestic worker visa route. Instead of moving further towards reducing the latter to a commodity of labour which can be flexibly utilized, ‘imported’ and ‘exported’ without considering individuals’ rights as human beings and UK workers, all migrants should be valued for the critical contributions they make, not least by enabling the UK to compete in increasingly globalised markets and to positively respond to challenges arising from a global economy. In return, migrants merely seek decent life opportunities.

With regard to migrant domestic workers, more specifically, the proposed changes are likely to increase the risk of trafficking and other abuses including forced labour and exploitation, which we consider unacceptable.

Overall, we think the UKBA proposals within this consultation would create substantially more insecurities for migrants wishing to come to the UK and as they progress through the system. Not only would many migrants find themselves made more vulnerable during their lives here as a result of the proposed changes, but the government also risks depriving the UK and communities across the country of valuable skills, expertise and energy as well as options for positively addressing varying short- and long term needs.

Read our full submission to the UKBA on our Resources page