Mark Harper offered this piece in reaction to our feature The Great British immigration scandal: Young, gifted, foreign - and shut out of the UK
The UK is a global leader in business, financial services, science, engineering and a cultural centre for the arts.
We recognise attracting the brightest and the best migrants is integral to upholding this position and safeguarding Britain’s future growth prospects. We want to harness their expertise, insight and contacts to help us succeed in the global race.
After years of uncontrolled migration this government has created a more selective immigration system that works in our national interest – a system that keeps out those intending to exploit the system while welcoming the brightest and best.
Our reforms mean net migration is at its lowest level for a decade and we are on track to reduce net migration to the tens of thousands by the end of this Parliament.
Our reforms also mean the UK is an attractive destination for those who have the most to offer and contribute to our society and economy.
We’ve introduced the Exceptional Talent visa route to ensure that industry and academia can bring in exceptional people from across the globe. It’s an elite category for world-class talent and provides more flexibility than other options.
It’s overseen by four world-renowned organisations: the Royal Society, the Arts Council England, The Royal Academy of Engineering and The British Academy.
Investors and Entrepreneurs
We’ve made changes to the investor and entrepreneur route to make the UK a more attractive option for valuable migrants. The time it takes for the biggest investors and most successful entrepreneurs to settle here has been reduced and a new Graduate Entrepreneur route has been introduced for graduates who have demonstrated entrepreneurial flair whilst studying in the UK.
We’ve made it easier for business visitors to come here too. We’ve introduced our first super priority same day visa service in India and in China our VIP mobile biometric service allows selected businesses to apply for a visa from their work place.
We continue to have a great offer for international students and we’ve made sure talented students can stay on after their studies. As long as they have a graduate job with a salary of at least £20,300, they can stay with no limit on numbers.
Our visa offer doesn’t end there; 20,700 individuals can also come to the UK every year through our skilled worker route if they have a job with one of our 26,500 UK licensed employers.
A bright future
Our visa system is working: the numbers of investors and entrepreneurs has almost doubled in recent years, there’s been a 5 per cent increase in the number of skilled worker visas issued and the same increase in the number of sponsored student visa applications for our world-class universities.
Britain is open for business and those who have the most to offer and contribute to our society and economy will always find a very warm welcome here.
Mark Harper is the Minister for Immigration