This conference brought together policymakers and stakeholders to examine the points-based immigration system and the future of immigration policy.
It was an opportunity to assess the development of government strategy against the backdrop of commitments to reduce record net-migration levels, and as businesses across the UK experience labour shortages.
With the Migration Advisory Committee annual report calling for a connected strategy across migration, skills and employment, delegates discussed priorities for coordination of immigration with wider policy and what will be needed for this to be achieved. Discussion also takes place with the MAC due to review the shortage occupation list and report back to government later this year.
Attendees considered what coordinated policy and strategy might look like, and how the Government can work with businesses, local government and other stakeholders to tackle acute labour shortages and plan for future economic needs - as well as how to put necessary skills and funding systems in place.
The agenda examined the performance of recently introduced visa routes - including Global Business Mobility, High Potential Individual, and Scale-Up - and what is needed from specific routes, and the sponsorship and application system as a whole, to better meet the needs of users and businesses.
Further sessions assessed the design and implementation of humanitarian visas and what can be learned from the Ukraine, Hong Kong and Afghanistan schemes, as well as the way forward for guarding against migrant exploitation and tackling the challenges of modern slavery, debt bondage and human trafficking.
Overall, sessions in the agenda looked at:
- priorities: UK immigration system and strategy - policy going forward
- key issues: assessing government commitments - addressing acute labour market shortages - support for key sectors - policy coordination - alignment with economic objectives
- visas: uptake of recently introduced routes - priorities for development and reform
- user experience: priorities for improvement - processing - decision-making - cost and complexity
- geopolitics: responding effectively to international crises - response design and resourcing - processing and learning from experiences with Ukraine, Afghanistan and Hong Kong
- tackling exploitation: inspection - enforcement - support for migrant workers
We are pleased to have been able to include keynote sessions with Philippa Rouse, Director for Migration & Citizenship and Senior Responsible Officer for the Future Border and Immigration System Programme, Home Office; Professor Brian Bell, Chair, Migration Advisory Committee; and Professor of Economics, King’s College London; Steven Bostock, Partner and Head of Immigration, Mishcon de Reya; Miranda Butler, Barrister, Landmark Chambers; and Professor Dame Sara Thornton, Professor of Practice in Modern Slavery Policy, University of Nottingham; and former Anti-Slavery Commissioner.
The conference was an opportunity for stakeholders to consider the issues alongside key policy officials who attended from the DBT; Department for the Economy, NI; DfE; DLUHC; DSIT; DHSC; DWP; FCDO; HMRC; HM Treasury; Home Office; ICIBI; Migration Advisory Committee; MoJ; ONS; The Scottish Government; and the Welsh Government - as well as parliamentary pass-holders from the House of Lords.