文翠珊,你赢了。

posted in 杂谈

文翠珊,你赢了。

晚上的时候收到英国内政部发来的邮件,是对我们之前请愿要求的回复。虽然是预料之中的官式套话,看完还是异常郁闷。

事情的起源是卡梅伦成功连任之后进一步收紧了移民和签证政策,内阁中以内政大臣文翠珊(Theresa May)为代表的疑欧派更是公开在“脱欧”公投中迟保留意见。她在将之前丑闻不断的英国边境管理局UKBA改组撤销之后,又一手炮制出对非欧盟移民申请工作签证的35K最低年收入要求。也就是说,对于像我们一样的非欧盟移民,如果在英国工作满五年之后工资仍然少于35K一年,则工作签证不获续签,需立马滚蛋。

scrap-35k-threshold-1

乍一看35K的要求并不高,实际上这已是英国技术工种年收入的中位数,并且已经达到了个人所得税的第二档(30%),对一个非欧盟移民来说,绝对不算简单。在我们号称世界TOP20的爱大,刚入职的讲师,已是社会上很受艳羡的工作,也就只能刚刚够这个数,如果四年没能升职那么… 而一个普通的博士后工作,一般收入也就在25K左右。或许我们应该对内政部感激涕零,因为他们非常“体贴”地将拥有博士学位的人纳入了豁免。但是那些在英国数十万计的华人本硕留学生(已经超过欧盟学生人数)应该如何自处?承受着一年二十多万的学费和生活开支,为这个国家贡献GDP,不允许留下来找工作,毕业之后便被请出了国境。而对于本地劳工而言,更受影响的是数万在NHS工作的外籍护士和护工,一旦他们被迫离开,医疗系统也面临严重人手短缺。算上上个月全国的住院医刚刚集体罢工抗议工资少加班多,NHS看起来日子非常不好过。

scrap-35k-threshold-2

我们这些非欧盟居民在议会网站上发起的情愿已经收集到了92067个签名,已经超过了政府必须回应的人数要求。而超过10万之后议会下议院会有强制的辩论环节。此政策刚出之时,在系里和我们同学周围引发了巨大的抵触情绪。正如下图所言,签名的人数集中在苏格兰的爱丁堡和格拉斯哥、威尔士的布里斯托、英格兰的曼城、牛津、剑桥和伦敦等大学集中的地区。但奇怪的是华人同学圈子里反而好像并不关心,网上激愤的多半也是几个PhD老愤青。我的同学甚至写了一封抗议信给他所在选区的议员,当然就苏格兰传统的左翼色彩和如今SNP包揽全境的架势,他们很有望能在下议院的质询中能好好挫一挫文翠珊的威风。

留意看一下请愿的网站,便会发现民意之间的巨大差异甚至撕裂是客观存在的。比如排第一的超过57万人要求拒绝美国共和党候选人川普(Donald Trump)入境,而排第二的是超过45万人认为在ISIS被消灭之前要关闭边境禁止任何移民,但紧接着有44万人要求政府接受更多的难民…

附上内政部的邮件。

Dear J***** Xu,

The Government has responded to the petition you signed – “Scrap the £35k threshold for non-EU citizens settling in the UK”.

Government responded:

The £35,000 threshold was announced in 2012 following public consultation. It applies only to workers in graduate occupations. Exemptions exist for workers at PhD-level or in a recognised shortage.

The Government believes that the UK can benefit from migration but not uncontrolled migration. We are delivering a more selective immigration system that works in the national interest.

Uncontrolled, mass immigration makes it difficult to maintain social cohesion, puts pressure on public services and can drive down wages for people on low incomes. In the past it has been too easy for employers to bring in workers from overseas, rather than to take the long-term decision to train our workforce here at home.

As part of our reforms, we consulted in 2011 on being more selective about those workers who are allowed to settle in the UK. We do not believe there should be an automatic link between coming to work in the UK temporarily and staying permanently.

The £35,000 threshold for settlement applications forms part of our overall strategy and is intended to make a modest contribution to the Government’s target of reducing net migration to sustainable levels. It applies to those holding leave under Tier 2, the skilled work category. This category is reserved for those working in graduate level jobs only.

The threshold was set following advice from the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), an independent advisory body consisting of expert labour market economists. The MAC carried out a further public consultation, in addition to that carried out by the Government, before arriving at its recommendations.

The purpose of the Tier 2 category is to support the UK economy. The MAC advised that the strongest indicator of economic value is salary, and therefore those migrants earning more than a given amount at the end of their temporary leave in the UK should be eligible for settlement.

£35,000 was equivalent to the median pay of the UK population in skilled jobs which qualified for Tier 2 at the time of the MAC’s consultation. The MAC’s most recent research shows that the equivalent figure today would be £39,000.

Within Tier 2, there are exemptions for migrants who are working in a PhD-level occupation (such as university researchers), or in a recognised shortage occupation. Nurses, several other healthcare professionals and some teachers are among the jobs which are included on the Shortage Occupation List, and who will be exempt from the threshold.

This exemption also covers jobs which have been on the Shortage Occupation List at any time in the preceding six years while the settlement applicant has been sponsored to do it. This guards against jobs being returned to shortage because migrant workers who have helped fill skills gaps are required to leave.

International students enter the UK under Tier 4, the student route. There is a category in Tier 5, the temporary work route, for charity workers. The £35,000 threshold does not apply to these categories, which have never led to settlement in the UK. We have an excellent offer for international graduates who wish to undertake skilled work in the UK after their studies.

Those workers who are affected by the threshold were aware when they entered that new settlement rules would apply to them. We were clear that the new rules would apply to migrants who entered Tier 2 from 6 April 2011. Employers have also had this time to prepare for the possibility their migrant workers may not meet the required salary threshold to remain in the UK permanently.

Those workers who cannot meet the threshold can extend their stay in Tier 2 up to a maximum of six years, and can apply to switch into any other immigration routes for which they are eligible.

Home Office

 

Click this link to view the response online: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/118060?reveal_response=yes

The Petitions Committee will take a look at this petition and its response. They can press the government for action and gather evidence. If this petition reaches 100,000 signatures, the Committee will consider it for a debate.

UK Government and Parliament