Truss paves the way for more short-term expatriates in the UK

Liz Truss outlines plans to make it easier for companies to hire talented overseas workers for short-term internships in the UK as employers complain about post-Brexit labor shortages in several sectors.

According to her allies, the new prime minister is keen to streamline “internal transfers”, where a multinational company temporarily transfers a skilled worker from abroad to the UK.

At the same time, she wants to crack down on immigration of “unskilled workers” and fears an influx of people entering the country as relatives of foreign students, the allies said.

Business groups including TheCityUK, a trade body, have complained about red tape and costs for employers using intra-corporate transfers, despite ministers’ recent efforts to streamline the arrangements. Businesses must pay an Immigration Skills Charge of £1,000 per year.

Business leaders have also been pushing for reciprocal youth mobility deals with the EU along the lines of a scheme that allows adults under 30 from Australia, Canada and New Zealand to live and work in the UK for up to two years.

Miles Celic, Chief Executive of TheCityUK, said multinationals in the financial services sector would find the government’s proposed move “hugely reassuring” for the future of their operations in the UK.

Celic said restoring the ability to move staff in and out of London has been a priority for international banks, insurers and wealth managers since Brexit.

“As an international financial capital, we need to be able to attract the best talent from around the world to remain competitive,” he added. “It will be beneficial for Britain.”

The CBI, the UK’s largest employers’ federation, said it was looking forward to details on the government’s plans.

“Skill and labor shortages are key concerns for many businesses, so any steps that make it easier for businesses to hire the people they need to be successful are a step in the right direction,” said a CBI spokesman.

Meanwhile, despite opposition from Home Secretary Suella Braverman and other Cabinet ministers who want tough immigration restrictions, Truss has ordered a review of Britain’s visa system to address labor shortages in certain sectors.

The prime minister wants to update the government’s “shortage occupations list,” which allows certain industries to hire staff from overseas.

Truss is also poised to lift the cap on the number of people from abroad who work on UK farms each year after the farming industry announced it was facing a shortage of staff.

Braverman said on the eve of the Conservative Party Conference that “too many low-skilled workers” were entering Britain and that many were “piggy-backing” as family members of foreign students.

home office Data show a five-fold increase in the number of family members accompanying students to the UK in the last three years. Of the 486,000 student visas issued in the year to June 2022, around 81,000 were given to dependents of people studying in the UK, compared with just 16,000 in 2019.

Madeleine Sumption, director of the Oxford University Migration Observatory, said the five-fold increase was partly due to increases in students from India and Nigeria, who tended to bring more dependents.

Braverman used her speech at the Tory conference to promise the government would use “all the means at our disposal” to curb the number of migrants crossing the English Channel to Britain in small boats. Truss paves the way for more short-term expatriates in the UK

Adam Bradshaw

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