Bee's picture
Tue, 11/16/2010 - 21:00 -- Bee

Uh. Britain. Are you serious about these new immigration policies? Really?

When I moved here six years ago my visa was issued on the merits of a spouse who had to prove that nobody in the United Kingdom could do his job. The visa allowed all four of us to remain for five years, during which time we had no recourse to public funds, although we were obligated to pay local and national tax.

The critical factor that made the United Kingdom more desirable than other countries was the fact that we could enter with a minimum of fuss, enrol the children in school, access health services. We also determined that the UK had a reasonable, transparent immigration process that would allow us to apply for permanent residency contingent on maintaining a clean record.

Why is this important? Well, think about it. If you were a highly educated, well-paid professional, would you leave behind your friends, family, house, investments, pension, life, without the option of permanent residency?

I wouldn't.

I didn't need to leave my homeland. I'm not a refugee, nor are any of my immigrant friends. We all came here seeking opportunity, but we could have found it anywhere. We are migratory by choice, not chance. Most of us want to find a place to settle - but we are making rational and deliberate choices using economic and social criteria. We can afford to be picky.

Companies (and universities) in the US offer better wages and the country has lower taxes, but higher risk in the form of a bad medical system and poor public infrastructure. Nations like Germany and Sweden have excellent benefits and stability, but low innovation.

What does the UK offer? Until the recent election I would have said: a rational if shambolic approach to public policy. The cost of living is high, but social benefits are adequate. In all relevant categories the UK is good enough, like a bright but underachieving student.

But all of this becomes irrelevant if the visa system becomes more restrictive. Who exactly would bother to come?

Not me, and while you might not miss my sarcastic self, you might miss my brilliant children and their tendency to ace standardised tests. Or my one true love and his world-class reputation as a research scientist.

Idealistic politicians and cranky nativists might think that limiting immigration is a smart choice. But nobody in the business community agrees. The United Kingdom simply does not have sufficient local talent to fill the highest, most selective jobs - no matter how much you might wish otherwise.

Oh, and by the way? The education cuts will not help the situation.