Mayor slams ‘tough visa requirements’ for London’s talent hubNovember 19, 2012
In this afternoon’s Evening Standard, the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has denounced the Government’s immigration policy as “not in the interests of London and the UK economy”. We are rather inclined to agree with him.
London First has long argued that the key factor in achieving UK economic growth, while much of Europe stagnates, will be maintaining our attractiveness as a destination for skilled workers, investors, students and tourists from growing non-EU economies.
The “tens of thousands” net migration target has elements which are not well measured, such as student emigration and staying on post-study, and others that are incapable of management, including EU migration. This risks both the perception and reality of confusing those we wish to welcome with those we seek to deter.
Some of the solutions we are suggesting include:
- removing students from the net migration target, alongside tackling bogus applications and ensuring that ‘overstayers’ return
- improving the accuracy of immigration flow data with the introduction of e-borders by 2015 at the latest
- a tourist friendly visa process which enables the same number of high-spending tourists to visit the UK as continental Europe
- more flexibility in the “cooling off” period – enabling genuine workers to switch jobs
- commitment to meeting and reducing border queue targets with the urgent introduction of e-gates.
London First will continue working with Government and other key stakeholders to advocate for immigration and border policies that enable the best and brightest to work and study in the UK.