Good thing I'm not a 'Highly Skilled Migrant'

Last night, I had a little whingefest about David Cameron’s statement that there are “too many immigrants” coming to Britain, which prompted me to highlight that fully legitimate, well educated migrants like myself didn’t appreciate being included in that statement after all our contributions in taxes and hard work.

This morning, I was very interested when I saw that Tony Sharp, a Conservative councillor for Brickhill Ward in Wellingborough had responded to my post. He quite rightly pointed out that Mr. Cameron’s statement was referring to “low skilled workers” as opposed to Highly Skilled Migrants, who are apparently more welcome. [Welcome to the traffic from the ConservativeHome blog, btw!]

In his comment, Tony mentioned a post he wrote a few weeks ago on the issue some Highly Skilled Migrants are having to deal with. In summary:

The entry criteria was tightened last year. Fair enough, there is nothing wrong with reviewing and updating a policy for new applicants that exists to benefit this country. But in one of the most spiteful, wrongheaded and self damaging decisions yet taken by Labour, it was decided to also apply the new rules retrospectively to those Highly Skilled Migrants (HSM) who had been granted entry under the old rules. Many of the HSM already working here are being told they no longer meet the criteria and are being refused the right to remain.

Now, I’m gobsmacked for two reasons here. The most obvious being that moving the goalpost on existing migrants is just the kind of madness I expect from immigration nowadays. And the second, that the criteria are being tightened. Here’s why that surprises me – When I moved to the UK, I did not qualify for a work visa as Highly Skilled Migrant. University degree in Communication & Marketing, enough funds to support myself, multilingual, no criminal record, people both in Canada and the UK who have known me for a long time and could vouch for me. That wasn’t good enough. But for once, today, I’m happy not to be under the HSM program, because getting the rug pulled from under my feet would set me off on another rant, and no one likes to see that.

In fact, for Mr. Sharp’s benefit and anyone else interested, here’s the breakdown of my progress towards becoming a British Citizen. It’s the long and winding road, as opposed to the HSM program.

  1. Dec 2001-Dec 2002: Working Holidaymaker visa – That was nice and easy to get and not too expensive either. They were just getting me hooked, the bastards!
  2. May-August 2003: Working Holidaymaker visa was still valid for a few months, so it covered me for that summer
  3. May 2004: Planning on moving to the UK permanently on a Highly Skilled Migrant visa, but I was told I did not qualify for it. Thankfully, my gorgeous British man (we were engaged at the time) agreed to scooting the wedding forward a year, so I was granted a fiance visa on the requirement that we got married within 6 months of me arriving in the UK. However, until I was married, I was allowed to reside in the UK, but not work.
  4. July 2004: After the wedding, I returned to my favourite place in the world, Croydon, to get a married visa, which finally allowed me to take up employment.
  5. August 2006: Two years of marriage, which I now need to prove to my Croydon mates in letters, bills, pictures, holiday tickets. I literally showed up with a suitcase of information, yet they still looked at me like I was some suspicious drug smuggler with a fake marriage arrangement. But I was granted a leave to remain visa (basically permanent residency).
  6. We’re now in August 2007 and it’s now up to me to apply for British Citizenship, but after the circus which I’ve described above, I’m in no rush to go do the Britishness Test. I consider myself as British as some people who’ve lived here all their life: I say knackered, bloody, can’t be arsed, I can tell a good pint from North American swill, I watch Red Dwarf, Peep Show and Spaced. I whinge about the Tube every time I go into London. I’ve passed my UK driving license on the first go. What more do you want? Oh, for me to go answer a handful of pub quiz trivia questions on the history of Britain to prove I’m really Britanicised? Well… bollocks to that for now. I’ll travel on a Canadian passport! 🙂

All this to say, low skill or high skill, it’s a pain to migrate to the UK, and I would love to see an improved process so that others like me don’t have to go through this chaotic process.

7 thoughts on “Good thing I'm not a 'Highly Skilled Migrant'

  1. Tony

    As the catchphrase on a popular old gameshow here in Britain used to go… “Lets see what you could have won”. I think the important thing to point out here is that if you have a skill and you are coming here legally having followed the rules, migrating here and staying here is now a pain.

    If however you are a former street sweeper from eastern Europe who wants to take a chance on coming here illegally and working in the black economy, staying here seems rather easy, even if you have been arrested. In all likelihood you will claim asylum after being caught and after costly appeals you will be given leave to remain indefinitely because the authorities cannot be bothered to deport you.

    The government relies on the fear factor law abiding people will experience if they are told there will be consequences for staying on after rule changes. The odds are stacked in favour of people who break our immigration laws and who offer little to make this country competitive. It is a backward situation but one that has been allowed to fester because any complaints would result in accusations of racism.

  2. Liz

    Hey, don’t be mean about the Croydon homeland (although Lunar House is hideous!) 🙂 I agree with you though the whole system is a shambles. Why on earth you and some of my other friends wouldn’t be classed as skilled migrants is just ridiculous.

    I’m hoping the process to get into Canada is better than getting into the UK, when we go in a few years. I can’t wait to take my hard earnt taxes elsewhere!

  3. Ray Masa

    Well, unfortunately for me, I am on HSMP and completely agree with you that while all nations have a right to change laws to keep up with changing times; it is quite unjust to apply such laws retroactively. I was lucky enough to have received my HSMP extension 5 days before the change and retroactive application of the law. But am I really lucky? Who knows they might change the laws again, applying them retroactively, and I get booted out.

    While I would expect such behavior from dictatorial third world countries, to set aside a legal agreement (between me and the Home Office) at will in a country that claims to nation of laws is quite disturbing. Guess a word of an English gentleman (or gentlewoman) doesn’t mean much these days.

    Sorry for the rant…:).

  4. pa

    Bienvenue en Angleterre..Tu mérites une ‘certificat de mérite’ pour effort soutenu..quel parcours!! Tu as beaucoup de comments?? qui t’aimes..

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