Migration Watch published a press release on the morning of February the 13th claiming that post Brexit UK visa proposals could lead to record levels of immigration, however hours later a second press release withdrew the claim. The initial press release stated that the government’s plans for Brexit could see UK immigration numbers increase by as much as 100,000 based on an estimated rise in the number of Tier 2 visas that were issued.
It should be mentioned that the Tier 2 Sponsor Licence and Tier 2 visa system is expensive, bureaucratic and confusing. The system is already quite effective in putting off people from applying. The figures were taken from the net migration which currently stands at an estimated 273,000 per year however the Migration Watch claimed that this would increase to 380,000 after the Brexit deal is finished.
In the second press release, Migration Watch said: “We have decided to withdraw the study issued today on post-Brexit migration levels. There was an error in the calculations, which was unfortunately overlooked at the final stages of preparation. We apologise for the error and will rectify it in the course of producing a revised version.”
The estimated figures by Migration Watch are have said to be based on the predicted after effects of the government’s UK immigration White Paper which was published in December 2018. The White Paper outlines the government’s proposals for a new, skills based immigration system – similar to the current Tier 2 visa system – and an end to free movement once the UK exits the EU. According to the estimates made the net migration from EU and non-EU nations looks set to increase post Brexit. The think tank has claimed the estimate will increase in non EU migration by approximately 100,000.
The estimated 100,000 rise is mostly based on an assumption that, following Brexit, a lower salary threshold will be put in place for certain skilled workers to come to the UK. Currently, there’s a £30,000 minimum salary threshold for skilled professionals to obtain a Tier 2 visa in the UK – with some exceptions. If the threshold is dropped to an average of £21,000 a significant rise in non-EU immigration to the UK will take place. However these speculations made by the Migration Watch have no basis as the government did not outline any plans to reduce the minimum salary threshold in the immigration White Paper.
According to independent fact checking charity, Full Fact, Migration Watch’s study has overestimated post-Brexit UK immigration numbers by analysing the total number of UK visa granted.
Full Fact says: “To estimate non-EU immigration, Migration Watch uses visa figures to estimate future levels. But these can’t be used to estimate immigration. An immigrant is usually defined as someone who comes to the UK to live here for a least a year. If they leave beforehand, they’re just considered a ‘short-term’ immigrant, or a visitor.”
“All of the figures you tend to see about “net migration” use this longer term definition of immigration,” Full Fact added.