Monday, 23 February 2009

Will I be working in London come September?

Being a Trinidadian working in London on the now-retired Working Holidaymaker visa, I became a bit anxious when I read that migrant workers will face tougher test to work in the United Kingdom.This is as my permission to work here expires after a year of full-time work, although my visa allows me to stay in the UK on vacation for another year from then. I had recently planned to apply to switch to Tier 1 or Tier 2 status at the end of this period, given the nature of my work, my love for it, and my employer's desire to keep me on after this time. Now I am unsure if this can even happen.

The reason I think this amendment is short-sighted, and will eventually hurt the UK more in its recession period is that I cannot be alone in the situation I am in, i.e. although I have practical experience and an income level far above that of most people with a Master's degree, the proposed new measures would exclude me from working in the UK without one.

The UK, I predict, will thus see a massive brain-drain as the exodus of "truly skilled workers without Masters' degrees" who cannot now qualify for Tier 1 status would leave a gap even local British labour and new graduates will not be able to fill immediately, especially in the "emerging technologies" and IT fields that I work in.

Even if workers were able to convince their employers to jump through the new hoops for Tier 2 status, this would effectively leave a worker open to being the victim in similar horror stories to those I've heard from friends who were on the US H1-B Visa. The power of a Tier 2 employed worker to protest improper, inadequate or unsafe working conditions or inequitable compensation scales would be virtually non-existant as this would risk him losing his job and being asked to leave the country. Tier 2 visa holders would become like second-class citizens in the workforce, working side by side with British nationals, but having little avenues to address grievances unless they were with a benevolent employer.

Anyone know a good immigration lawyer who might be able to show me the fine print in this amendment and if I'm being too pessimistic about the expected outcome of events?