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Immigration policy has remained at the fulcrum of political debate, both in the United Kingdom and around the world, for another year. Business immigration practitioners continue to have constant flows of anxious clients – particularly corporate clients – trying to navigate the myriad obligations imposed by ever-more complex immigration regulations and legal right-to-work requirements.
Many politicians see the immigration debate as a mechanism with which to gain the attention of their voting public. The rise of nationalist parties, such as UKIP in the United Kingdom and the National Front in France, means that the political elite feel compelled to present tougher protectionist immigration regulations in order to enhance their credibility with their electorate.
Given the easing of the global economic crisis, and the return to sustained growth and renewed employment in the United Kingdom, legitimate questions arise as to whether continued barriers to skilled migration flow are desirable.
There is clearly a conflict between the needs of the economy to create a dynamic skilled labour market and the political impetus to be tough on immigration because of the general perception that it has ‘gone too far’.
The United Kingdom is not the only country to toughen its immigration system. In Singapore, the Fair Consideration Framework imposes a much more stringent approach to testing the local resident labour market than was historically the case.
China has also reduced the circumstances in which a business visa is a suitable method of entry to mainland China and imposed a more stringent short term work permit regime on foreign national workers.