Commonwealth nations could have hoped that the British authorities’s promise to concentrate on the remainder of the world after leaving the European Union would make it simpler for members of the 54-member group to reside and work within the UK. However that hasn’t occurred.
A Bloomberg Information evaluation of UK Dwelling Workplace visa functions between 2017 and 2022 (excluding 2020, the pandemic yr) discovered that refusal charges for research, work and household or dependent-related functions from Commonwealth nations exceeded these of countries outdoors the group.
In terms of work visas particularly, lower than 6% of functions from China, Mexico, Russia or Saudi Arabia had been rejected throughout that interval, in comparison with greater than 10% for some African Commonwealth members together with Cameroon, Uganda and Tanzania.
What’s extra, the evaluation additionally discovered giant disparities in refusal charges amongst Commonwealth nations themselves, with probably the most restrictive charges ceaselessly occurring in Africa.
In Kenya, for instance, the rejection price for work visas was 8%, or almost 4 instances greater than in Australia or Canada, the place fewer than 2% had been turned down. Residents of the latter two nations are free to go to the UK for journeys lasting so long as six months, whereas these from Kenya want to use for visas to step foot within the UK for any period of time.
For Commonwealth nations the place UK visas are required for journey, visa functions for work, research and dependent members of the family are additionally rejected at greater charges. In Cameroon, a Commonwealth member since 1960, the rejection price for research visas was 27.2%, or roughly 50 instances greater than rejection charges in Malaysia or Singapore, the place about 0.5% of research visas are turned down.
The loss of life of Queen Elizabeth II, below whose reign the previous colonies the British Empire advanced into the self governing nations of the Commonwealth, has prompted a great dose of soul looking. Many members are actually asking what functions the group serves.
A particular visa program might assist deal with that, in accordance with David Lawrence, a analysis fellow at Chatham Home, a London-based worldwide affairs coverage institute.
“Migration is one space the place the UK might spearhead one thing that gives tangible advantages. It could be attention-grabbing to see a Commonwealth visa, maybe one thing that makes it simpler for people to go to, research, and work within the UK,” Lawrence mentioned. “This might assist plug a few of the labor shortages and cut back the possibility of nations wanting to depart the Commonwealth.”
The disparities in acceptance charges could stem from quite a lot of causes in accordance with immigration consultants. Considered one of them may very well be that nations with which the UK has visa-free agreements additionally are typically “nearer” companions, in accordance with Lawrence.
However on the coronary heart of it, there’s a mismatch of expectations. Free motion throughout the EU was extremely unpopular within the UK and was a significant factor within the vote to depart the bloc. The problem of immigration is once more coming to the political fore this yr, largely as a result of variety of asylum seekers making an attempt to cross the Channel in small boats from France within the absence of formally accepted routes to achieve Britain.
Internet migration to the UK hit a file excessive of half one million folks within the yr to 2022, the Workplace for Nationwide Statistics mentioned on Thursday, in what the group known as a “distinctive” 12-month interval.
Having a particular visa for expert Commonwealth residents shouldn’t be an issue as long as the British folks consider it’s justified, mentioned Heather Rolfe, an immigration integration specialist at British Future, a London-based immigration non-profit.
“In the event you’ve received abilities that the UK wants, it wouldn’t actually matter what nation you come from,” Rolfe argued. “The query can be why the choice for Commonwealth nations. Nevertheless, employers would possibly take into account it as a good suggestion particularly if it advantages them financially by the use of decrease visa prices.”
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