Mayor of London Ken Livingstone has joined the campaign against retrospective changes to the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP), branding them “manifestly unjust”.
Livingstone has written to the government urging it to allow migrants who came to the UK before the November 2006 changes to be exempt from the new rules.
The new points-based system requires skilled migrants to meet more stringent criteria before being allowed to work in the UK. Fears have been raised that up to 40,000 people could be forced out of the country, disrupting lives and leaving damaging staff shortages.
Livingstone wrote: “I have heard with deep concern about the impact of HSMP rule changes last November on people who arrived under the previous HSMP regime. To change rules retrospectively in this way, for people who have made a major commitment to a productive role in the UK, is manifestly unjust.”
Those already on the HSMP are still awaiting the outcome of a judicial review into the changes. They received hope last month when a tribunal court upheld a worker’s appeal against being deported when he could not meet the new criteria.
Livingstone said the rule changes “threatened real damage to the economy of London and the UK”, and “undermined our relationship with dynamic markets around the world”.