Migrants' Rights Network

Newsnight: Who Are The UK’s Highly Skilled Migrants?

BBC 2’s Newsnight, in conjunction with MRN, has aired the situation faced by 1,700 of the UK’s Highly Skilled migrants refused leave to stay in the UK because of historic non-criminal tax discrepancies. It is of particular note that, from MRN’s investigations, all those refused leave are non-white Commonwealth migrants from six South Asian and African countries and 70% are Muslim, even though there were many nationalities, including US ctizens, Australians and Canadians on the same visa.

This Government has repeatedly stated that it wants to “attract the top talent from around the world”, based on a “points-based immigration system”. The issues uncovered by MRN and aired on Newsnight on 1 June, however, highlights a deeply concerning precedent for the treatment of the UK’s ‘highly skilled’ migrants who the UK seeks to attract.

Through the Newsnight’s showing of single mother Sarah’s* case, living on an acquaintance’s sofa with her six-year-old son after fighting for leave to remain in the UK since 2016, Sarah has now been granted a right to appeal and a right to work after years of refusal. MRN has hope that the airing of this, and Sejal and Tariq’s* cases, will help bring to light to and address the major issues around seemingly unlawful tax data-sharing and subsequent ILR refusals to the highly skilled. Many of those who have been granted a right to appeal and allowed to share their reasons for the discrepancies have been granted leave.

When prepping for the airing of the Newsnight film on 1 June, MRN further noted that the Home Office had, in recent weeks, further redacted or deleted the discretionary immigration clauses online that are at the centre of refusing highly skilled leave to remain. We can only assume that this was to cover the policy used to refuse ILR.

*not their real names.

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