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Highest ever number of UK work visas issued in UK

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A highest number of overseas health and care people had been issued UK visas remaining year, figures launched on Thursday revealed.

While 146,477 candidates had been granted permission to return back on health visas in 2023, whilst dependants had been taken into consideration the parent rose to a complete of 349,929.

This is up from 157,636 in 2022 and 63,291 in 2021. Charities warned that the Government was “unwilling” to address low pay in the health sector, leaving migrant workers open to exploitation.

It comes as new rules will see foreign carers banned from bringing their loved ones to the UK from March 11 in a measure that the Government hopes will bring down legal migration.

Wage thresholds will also increase to £29,000, from £18,600, in April. The policy has been slammed by opposition politicians, including London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who said it will place an “already-stretched” NHS and social care system under more pressure.

The number of people living in the UK on a work visa was also at an 18-year high, with 600,000 issued last year, according to the Government figures.

The Home Office said the rise has been “largely driven” by care workers and home carers.

In a breakdown of the occupations under the health and care route, care workers, home carers and senior care workers accounted for 105,881 main applications granted.

In the care workers and home carers category the number of visas issued to main applicants was more than four times higher last year than in 2022, at 89,236 up from 19,864.

Dr Dora-Olivia Vicol, CEO of Work Rights Centre, said: “We can clearly see a rapidly growing population of vulnerable migrant workers, in a sector which has already been identified as low-pay, low protection, and high-risk.

“While the government is unwilling to address low pay in health and care, the sector will continue to rely on overseas labour – with migrant workers, unjustly, easier to exploit.

“On the surface, it seems positive that the Home Office is taking more actions against sponsor-employers who exploit workers or break the rules.

“However, the Home Office needs a plan to support migrant workers to find new sponsors. Without it, every time a licence is revoked, migrants associated with that sponsor are left in limbo and in debt, unfairly punished for the behaviour of their employer.

“The Home Office must have a plan for safeguarding and supporting migrant workers who are effectively punished for the behaviour of their employer. Otherwise, migrant workers will be deterred from reporting exploitative employers, which is bad for British and migrant workers alike, and the vulnerable adults in their care.”

Former Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who was sacked last year, said: “The PM must adopt policies I pushed for that would have prevented this national disaster.

“We need a cap on overall numbers. Britain will be unrecognisable if this carries on.”

Dr Ben Brindle, researcher at the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford said the precise impacts of the new approach are difficult to predict.

“The UK may become less attractive to care workers with family members,” he said.

“However, it’s also possible that employers will simply shift to hiring younger workers without families, or people who are willing to leave their families behind.

“In agriculture, the UK has been able to recruit tens of thousands of workers onto seasonal agricultural visas with less advantageous visa conditions.

“At the same time, care workers themselves will become more isolated if they come to the UK alone, and so may become more vulnerable to exploitation.”

The Home Office figures showed that Indian (18,664), Nigerian (18,143) and Zimbabwean (15,279) nationals accounted for almost six in 10 (58 per cent) of the visas granted to care workers and home carer occupations last year.

Indian nationals accounted for more than half (51 per cent) of visa grants for nurses (11,322 grants), and just under a third (32 per cent) of senior care worker visas (5,301 grants), the department said.

Overall, the number of people admitted to the UK under a work visa in 2023 was 616,371, up 46 per cent from 421,565 in 2022 and the highest number for any 12-month period since comparable records began in 2005.

Of the 616,371 people admitted via this route, just over half (337,240, or 55 per cent) were main applicants while just under half (279,131, or 45 per cent) were dependants.

In 2022, main applicants made up 63 per cent of the total arriving under a work visa, while dependants made up 37%.

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Dulal Ahmed Chowdhury

Dulal Ahmed Chowdhury is the Editor of The Daily Dazzling Dawn. Previously, he has been serving in important positions in all the famous national dailies of the Bangladesh since the nineties. He has played a commendable role in journalism by participating in various events at the national and international levels. United Nations Conference, World Climate Conference, SAARC Summit are notable among them.

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