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On the UK's Highly Skilled Migrant Programme - Many a mickle maks a muckle

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May 9th, 2005


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08:35 pm - On the UK's Highly Skilled Migrant Programme
There are a number of ways for those with citizenship outside the European Community (plus future applicant states) to obtain the right to work within the UK. A marriage visa conveys the right, though not a fiancé visa. Work permits are possible, but difficult to obtain unless you're in a profession in demand. (Apparently transport planners are in demand in the UK at the moment. Hmm! How does one go about becoming a transport planner and where would such positions be advertised?)

There's also the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme, where someone from overseas can obtain the right to move to the UK and look for a job while they're over here if they can earn sufficiently many points through a combination of educational qualifications, work experience, past earnings, exceptional achievement in their field, being a General Practitioner of Medicine and/or their partners' achievements. Additionally, the usual common-sense safeguards apply: stick here, work here and don't draw benefits. The bar is set at quite a height, though substantial concessions are made to those aged under 28. We sometimes heard of parties' plans to establish "an Australian-style point scheme" for potential economic migrants; I am annoyed that Labour didn't defend the practices they implemented themselves by saying "Oi, mush, we've got one already".

I Am Not A Lawyer, but I am a gamer, and I realised something interesting today. The point allocations make it substantially easier for someone to get to 55 or 60 points under the scheme than to get to 65. Someone aged 28+ would probably get to 60 points through 25 for a Masters degree and 35 points for 5 years' graduate-level work experience including 2 years at a senior level (roughly "a dozen graduates underneath them"). Various other combinations exist, but the system is set up to award points in 25s and 35s. (For someone under 28, it's even easier - 5 points age bonus, 25 for a Masters degree and 25 for 2 years' graduate level work experience takes you to 55.)

In comparison to those, the last 10 points are easy; have a spouse with a bachelors' degree, or two years of graduate-level experience. Heck, you don't need to be married - two years of unmarried but established partnership will suffice, in whatever gender combination. This spouse needs only the first degree or the experience and nothing else to earn you both the points.

It surprises me that we don't hear more about people marrying each other, or forming such partnerships, purely so that one of them can gain those last 10 points and the other can piggy-back their way into Britain as a dependent of the first. (Presumably these partnerships could be dissolved at a later date when both parties would qualify for indefinite leave to remain individually.) Oh, I'm sure it happens, but I also suspect it doesn't happen frequently enough to attract attention.

My own view is that if we must have a brain drain around the world, which is not ideal, then "we" ought to be selfish and make it easy for "ourselves" to be a net beneficiary from the phenomenon. Accordingly, I would increase the score earnt for having a PhD from 30 points to 40, so any PhD with five years' graduate level work experience would qualify, regardless of partnership status and make a distinction between good and excellent Masters degrees, so that anyone under 28 with an excellent Masters degree and two years' graduate level work would qualify even if alone. Effectively, that's not going to allow more of these highly desirable in on its own, just that it's going to permit them to qualify on their own, rather than having to form a sham partnership with a graduate in order to make the grade.
Current Mood: geekywe're also short of actuaries
Current Music: "Adiemus" with or by "Adiemus" (via lunamystic)

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From:glissando
Date:May 9th, 2005 12:57 pm (UTC)
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A friend of mine is having real problems with the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme at the moment. Her student visa is about to expire (like, in a few weeks) yet her application as a Highly Skilled Migrant has been rejected once (despite the fact that she has a PhD). Aged 30, with a PhD, and having studied at UCL since she did her Masters nine years ago you'd think she wouldn't have any problems. Not only that, but she's been a member of staff in her department for several years, and has just been offered a lectureship for the next year. She's highly sought after in the academic world (she's already been offered a job for 2006-2007) and has had many articles published which are revolutionary in her research field. I'm constantly keeping my fingers crossed because she's such a dear friend. Alas, if she is able to remain in Britain, they're going to take away her passport for three months which rules her out of our Italian summer holiday and her crucial field work in Africa. It's such a ridiculous system, and I really don't understand it at all.

< / rant >

Sorry - can't you tell that it's exam week?!
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From:jiggery_pokery
Date:May 12th, 2005 05:47 am (UTC)
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Oh no! Very sorry to hear it. I would've thought that being sufficiently pre-eminent in their field to have nine years of post-grad study would qualify for a Work Permit on the grounds that you just don't get people that specialist in the EU at the very least. Having international papers published probably counts for the "significant achievements" 15 bonus points, too.

I cross my fingers as well. Haven't forgotten about the charity cheque and how did the OE paper go?
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From:glissando
Date:May 13th, 2005 05:59 am (UTC)
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We can't see why she's having problems either!

OE paper was fine - translations were bits that I knew really well, and I had masses to say in my commentary. The Middle English bit was not that interesting - the passages didn't give you lots to say, but I managed to do a couple of sides for each one. I've actually just finished my last exam - such a relief they're over. I think I've done OK, but haven't experienced the feeling, as with some A-level papers of "Wow, I know I've really aced that one". Doesn't really matter - I've only got to pass.
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From:wordplay
Date:May 9th, 2005 01:08 pm (UTC)
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Heh. The HSMP is one of those balm-to-the-soul things that I use when I start feeling completely trapped and worthless. The numbers are so nice and validating - look, Marc, somebody thinks you're Highly Skilled! And I get to contribute 10 points! You're right that it looks an awful lot like a marriage bonus, but considering the trouble that spouses can occasionally have getting work visas, it's a nice thing.

Don't forget the money, either - that's a relatively easy point grab in some sectors of the post 90s economy. In Marc's line of work, where you can make a nice salary in non-supervisory positions, that's where a fair few of the points come from.

But what's not been clear to me is how exactly all that's evaluated - once you hit the magic threshold, is that what matters? How much discretion is applied after that? Does it matter if you have 65 or 105 points? Or does the process become more qualitative after you've hit that threshold? It's all very confusing.
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From:jiggery_pokery
Date:May 12th, 2005 05:51 am (UTC)
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Wow. :-) If you've got enough of an income to be scoring points from past earnings, I somehow don't think you have too many problems!

Final para questions: good questions and I don't know the answers. I thought it was pretty automatic and just a matter of time for all the checks to go through the system; if someone were able to score for education, past earnings and work experience, but only needed to score in two of those three categories to be able to get to 65, I have no idea whether they would still wait for all three checks to come through or just say "Meh, he's got to 65 already even if the third category turns out to be a 0-pointer". I imagine that trying to claim the points for significant achievements is particularly slow to administer simply because finding experts to verify the claim is tricky.

I think their target is to sort out 50% of applications in 4 weeks and 90% in 13 weeks, but see Bethany's friend above passim.
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From:undyingking
Date:May 10th, 2005 02:46 am (UTC)
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Personally I think that we ought to be pretty chuffed that anyone even moderately skilled actually wants to live and work here (immigrants are net contributors to the economy, and the more skilled, the more so) -- and not make life difficult for them in this rather arbitrary and unfair-seeming way.
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From:jiggery_pokery
Date:May 12th, 2005 05:57 am (UTC)
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I think there needs to be a limit to it in theory but would broadly agree with you that we are millions away, in the least sparsely-populated areas, from reaching that limit.

Enforcing where immigrants could live and work would probably be too much of a hot potato though. I fear the only way to redistribute within the country is regional economic redistribution and, well, that ain't happening much.

Did you see passing mention of the English Democrats in the recent election campaign who essentially want to stop the UK parliament giving more public spending per capita to Scotland and Wales than to England? Thankfully they got nowhere but I wonder if the logical successor to that would be a South-East regionalist party who wanted more emphasis placed on the South-East and its issues and less on the poorer areas of England. Like mine.

Mebyon Kernow!
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From:undyingking
Date:May 16th, 2005 02:54 am (UTC)
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We had an English Democrat here in Ipswich -- he got 641 votes, so not much appeal even in this relatively-deprived constituency.

I guess your SE party would be our equivalent of Umberto Bossi's Lega Nord, whose platform AFAICS is "less Northern taxes subsidizing the poor bits"... which has spent quite a bit of time in government alongside Berlusconi. Maybe a warning of the dangers of PR...
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From:jiggery_pokery
Date:May 17th, 2005 12:07 pm (UTC)
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If it's what the people want, then it's what the people should have. It's only about as offensive as the Conservative's views on (passive by reduced emphasis on active equalising) redistribution, after all.

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