UK Government Considering Restricting Foreign Healthcare Staff to just one relative

Rishi Sunak is gearing up for a fresh set of measures aimed at tightening immigration controls, anticipating renewed concern within the Conservative party over the all-time high numbers of migrants.

In the face of mounting pressure for the prime minister to address illegal arrivals, official figures set to be released on Thursday are expected to reveal an unprecedented surge in net migration.

The government led by Mr. Sunak is reportedly considering reducing the number of relatives that foreign health and social care workers can bring along to just one.

Tory ministers are also said to be contemplating abandoning the shortage occupation list, a move that would make it more challenging for British employers to bring in foreign staff to fill gaps.

There is also a possibility of expediting the increase in the minimum salary requirement for foreign worker visas from £26,200 to approximately £31,000.

Number 10 has stated that it is exploring options to reduce net migration levels, with Mr. Sunak’s spokesperson noting, “This is something that we are actively looking at.”

An announcement regarding the hike in the minimum salary threshold for foreign workers could be made as early as Thursday, according to The Times.

The newspaper reported that the Home Office, under the former home secretary Suella Braverman, had been advocating for a prohibition on dependents accompanying foreign health and care workers, despite objections from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

However, Number 10 is believed to be inclined towards a compromise by limiting the number of dependents to one on health workers’ visas.

Madeleine Sumption from the Migration Observatory at Oxford University remarked that the shortage occupation list “brings people into really low-paid jobs” and suggested that if the salary threshold were much higher, there might be a stronger argument for it.

Last year, net migration reached a record high of around 606,000, but this week’s figures from the Office for National Statistics are expected to indicate a new milestone of 700,000.

Simultaneously, Mr. Sunak faces pressure from his own MPs to outline a feasible revised “plan B” for redirecting asylum seekers arriving on small boats to Rwanda.

The prime minister is set to publish an updated agreement with Rwanda to address the court’s concerns around “refoulement”—the potential for rejected refugees to be sent back to the country they are fleeing.

In addition, the Tory leader plans to propose emergency legislation that would allow parliament to unequivocally declare Rwanda a safe destination for asylum seekers.

However, a leading lawyer told parliament earlier this week that the planned new treaty with Rwanda would be a “historically worthless piece of paper.”

Lord Carlile argued that Rwanda had been deemed unsafe “on the facts” by the Supreme Court, stating, “Why doesn’t the government see that the proposal of a treaty with Rwanda would produce a document which would be yet another historically worthless piece of paper?”

Former Supreme Court judge Lord Sumption has expressed skepticism about the Rwanda plan, calling it “probably dead” and describing it as “constitutionally extraordinary” for the prime minister to “change the facts by law” by declaring Rwanda safe.

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