UK Immigration News: The UK PM Rishi Sunak Speaks on Immigration and Innovation at the 2022 CBI Conference banner


UK Immigration News: The UK PM Rishi Sunak Speaks on Immigration and Innovation at the 2022 CBI Conference

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At OTS Solicitors our business immigration lawyers all tuned in to hear the British prime minister, Rushi Sunak, speak at the November 2022 CBI conference.

The headline takeout from the speech: it is a curious mix of talk of innovation and attracting the brightest and best to the UK whilst highlighting political credentials on battling illegal immigration. These are the 2 areas that business immigration lawyers and individual immigration solicitors focus on in their daily engagements with the Home Office.

UK Online and London-Based Immigration Solicitors 

For the latest immigration law advice call the expert London immigration lawyers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

Innovators not illegals or closer ties with the EU

Innovation is to be at the heart of what the conservative government does. That is the clear message from Rishi Sunak in his CBI speech with an emphasis that Brexit is done and that the UK will not be looking to realign itself with the EU despite the media having talked about an announcement of a Swiss-style deal with the EU. That was firmly scotched.

This was disappointing news for some UK businesses struggling with chronic labour shortages through a combination of Brexit and the end of free movement for EU nationals and post-pandemic employment trends. Ask any London restaurant or construction site about how the current recruitment crisis affects their ability to operate, let alone scale up and grow their business, and you will hear all about their daily struggle to open and service their clients.

In his speech to the CBI conference, Rishi Sunak said he wanted to attract "the best and brightest from around the world" to work in the UK and that the UK would create "one of the world's most attractive visa regimes for entrepreneurs and highly-skilled people", as part of the plan to attract experts in artificial intelligence to the UK.

Whilst journalists at the CBI conference asked the prime minister if his government would listen to demands from businesses for looser controls on immigration for workers, Rishi Sunak stressed that his focus was on doing what people wanted namely tackling illegal immigration and reducing net migration whilst at the same time achieving an immigration system “which is highly competitive for the best and the brightest.”

Innovation by immigration or by UK training

In the prime minister’s address to the CBI, his emphasis was on home-grown innovation to be achieved through training and education of the nation’s youth and workers so their schooling and college education and training schemes are fit for purpose and meet the needs of UK employers.

Mr Sunak said, ‘’We are asking ourselves radical searching questions about the curriculum because young people need to enter the modern economy equipped with the right knowledge and skill …I believe in the very core of my being that education is the closest thing we have to a silver bullet in public policy. It is the most transformative thing that we can do for our people’’.

The emphasis on homegrown talent is consistent with the earlier comments of immigration minister Robert Jenrick who in response to CBI calls for targeted immigration to fill chronic labour shortages commented, “If I was a business manager, I would be looking to the British workforce in the first instance, seeing how I could get local people into my business, train them up, skill them to do the job.”

In contrast, Tony Danker, the director general of the CBI, is calling for flexible and practical immigration policies to ‘’use immigration on a fixed-term basis to plug the gaps until British workers are ready to do the jobs’’. His request is in response to a recent survey by the CBI, which represents 190,000 UK businesses. The survey found nearly three-quarters of UK businesses had suffered from labour shortages in the past 12 months. Nearly 50% of those surveyed wanted the labour recruitment crisis alleviated by the granting of temporary work visas for roles in shortage rather than temporary work visas remaining restricted to seasonal agricultural and other highly restricted job roles. The CBI survey was also supported by comments made by the boss of retailer giant Next who highlighted the need for overseas workers to plug the gap and be allowed into the UK to ease labour shortages.

Practical immigration policies and growth or a focus on net migration figures

From the perspective of UK immigration solicitors, the ongoing gap between politicians and UK businesses on immigration policy is not in the future (provided we can conquer the tall task of training UK and settled workers to be able to carry out the jobs that UK employers currently cannot fill) but now with a three-fold immigration problem:

  1. There is no immigration route for non-skilled overseas workers to come to the UK to work in sectors where there are chronic labour shortages and where, for whatever reason, UK businesses cannot recruit staff. Whilst there may be plans to encourage the UK’s economically inactive back into employment there is an immediate need for restaurants to be able to employ sufficient cleaners and waiters to be able to open their restaurant doors 7 days a week and for construction firms to have enough labourers to support their skilled artisans and workers
  2. There is no work route for asylum claimants waiting to have asylum claims processed as they do not have the right to work in the UK. Employers who employ those seeking asylum in the UK risk being in breach of illegal working legislation and facing large fines and penalties
  3. There is a complex set of immigration routes and immigration rules that can deter the brightest and best from setting up a new business in the UK or deciding to join an ambitious tech or digital company in the UK

Making the immigration system work for your business

Oshin Shahiean, managing partner at OTS Solicitors, specialist immigration lawyers in London, says ‘’the prime minister’s speech to the CBI conference was short on detail of how the government plans to ‘’attract the brightest and best’’ to come to the UK and to compete with the likes of the US to attract A1 talent to enable the UK to achieve growth and exit the recession as quickly as possible’’.

Hans Sok Appadu, partner and head of the firm’s business immigration team, emphasises the apparent gap between what the government perceives voters want as a UK migration policy and what UK business needs now. He says: ‘’as a business immigration solicitor, it is frustrating to hear businesses at the CBI conference calling out for flexible immigration policies in the short term and packages to meet the expectations and demands of the brightest and best. There must be something to lure A1 talent from the sunny shores of California to the wet and windswept UK. Whilst the UK already has a package of business immigration and work visa routes the reality is that they can be complicated for both UK business employers and would-be overseas entrepreneurs to get their heads around. UK businesses then must cope with the red tape associated with a sponsor licence application and management and visa applicants with the frankly complicated eligibility criteria and application process for some business and work visas’’.

‘’Take the innovator visa and the start-up visa designed to encourage experienced and new entrepreneurs to set up businesses in the UK but with a strict requirement for the new business to be innovative, scalable, and viable. Alternatively, take the global talent visa with a requirement for the visa applicant to be of ‘’exceptional talent or promise’’ or the global business mobility visa with its 5 routes to UK entry. The eligibility criteria can be a challenge to even those in Mensa and can off put rather than attract the brightest and best’’.    

‘’The frustrations expressed by businesses at the CBI conference makes OTS Solicitors more determined than ever to get the message out to British business and overseas skilled workers and entrepreneurs that there are global business mobility solutions that appear unachievable but with expert guidance and support, and help with visa applications and sponsor licence management, your immigration and recruitment problems can be solved. Hopefully, the time will be reached where plain English and business need is at the forefront of UK business immigration policy’’. 

To finish with the words of Mr Danker of the CBI, "the biggest regulatory barriers facing businesses today are based on British laws, created by a British Parliament, and administered by British regulators.". That is what our business immigration solicitors are determined to help British businesses and overseas talent with.

UK Online and London-Based Immigration Solicitors 

For the latest immigration law advice call the expert London immigration lawyers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

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