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What will the new immigration system mean for Wales?

February 19th 2020

The Government has finally revealed its plans to reform the immigration system. Given its 80 seat majority the immigration bill will meet with little opposition in parliament. Claire Thomas asks what do these changes mean for Wales?


What are the changes?

There will no longer be an overall cap on the number of skilled workers who could come into the UK as a whole but now all oversees citizens will need to reach 70 points to be able to work in Wales (Speaking English and having the offer of a skilled job with an “approved sponsor” would give you 50 points).

Some of the key changes includes:

  • Non-skilled workers and migrants who cannot speak English will no longer be able to migrate to Wales
  • Anyone who wants to come and work in Wales must have a job offer with a salary threshold of £25,600, although a lower threshold of £20,480 will apply in areas which have skill shortage (e.g. nursing)
  • There will be no longer be a route for self-employed people to come to Wales, which will mean tradespeople like builders and plumbers without a job will no longer be able to come here.

What do these changes mean for Wales?

Although these changes were much anticipated, many businesses and stakeholders will now be extremely concerned about the impact of these changes. Stopping routes for non-skilled workers will have implications for businesses in Wales, particularly in the food processing, manufacturing and hospitality sectors and social care, all of whom currently employ non skilled migrants.

While the salary threshold has been lowered from the original £30,000, the new salary threshold only just falls below the average gross salary for full-time workers in Wales, which in 2017 was £26,024. In future, Wales may find it harder to compete with the rest of the UK when trying to attract skilled workers.

Our long-term future depends on attracting and retaining people of working age to help make Wales a thriving and prosperous place. While these changes close the door on unskilled immigration, we must continue to extend a warm welcome to people of all origins and encourage and support them to make Wales their home


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