Commonwealth finds no Brexit profit on the subject of UK visas


Commonwealth international locations might have hoped that the British authorities’s promise to give attention to the remainder of the world after leaving the European Union would make it simpler for members of the 54-member group to dwell and work within the UK. However that hasn’t occurred.

A Bloomberg Information evaluation of UK Dwelling Workplace visa purposes between 2017 and 2022 (excluding 2020, the pandemic 12 months) discovered that refusal charges for research, work and household or dependent-related purposes from Commonwealth international locations exceeded these of countries exterior the group.

With regards to work visas particularly, lower than 6% of purposes from China, Mexico, Russia or Saudi Arabia have 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 international locations themselves, with probably the most restrictive charges regularly occurring in Africa.

In Kenya, for instance, the rejection price for work visas was 8%, or almost 4 instances larger than in Australia or Canada, the place fewer than 2% have 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 international locations the place UK visas are required for journey, visa purposes for work, research and dependent members of the family are additionally rejected at larger charges. In Cameroon, a Commonwealth member since 1960, the rejection price for research visas was 27.2%, or roughly 50 instances larger than rejection charges in Malaysia or Singapore, the place about 0.5% of research visas are turned down.

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The dying of Queen Elizabeth II, below whose reign the previous colonies the British Empire developed into the self governing nations of the Commonwealth, has prompted a superb dose of soul looking. Many members are actually asking what functions the group serves.

A particular visa program may assist tackle that, in line with David Lawrence, a analysis fellow at Chatham Home, a London-based worldwide affairs coverage institute.

“Migration is one space the place the UK may spearhead one thing that gives tangible advantages. It could be fascinating to see a Commonwealth visa, maybe one thing that makes it simpler for people to go to, research, and work within the UK,” Lawrence stated. “This may 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 might stem from a variety of causes in line with immigration specialists. One in every of them may very well be that international locations with which the UK has visa-free agreements additionally are typically “nearer” companions, in line with Lawrence.

However on the coronary heart of it, there’s a mismatch of expectations. Free motion inside 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 12 months, 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 permitted routes to succeed in Britain.

Internet migration to the UK hit a report excessive of half 1,000,000 folks within the 12 months to 2022, the Workplace for Nationwide Statistics stated on Thursday, in what the group referred to 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, stated Heather Rolfe, an immigration integration specialist at British Future, a London-based immigration non-profit.

“For those who’ve bought 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 international locations. Nevertheless, employers may think about it as a good suggestion particularly if it advantages them financially by means of decrease visa prices.”

© 2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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