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Sajid Javid: I want to ensure Northern Ireland business can access the skilled people it needs

Sajid Javid
Sajid Javid

By Sajid Javid

I'm deeply proud to have grown up as the son of immigrants to the United Kingdom.

Living above a shop in a poor part of Bristol, they worked hard to provide for me and my four brothers.

Their hard work and determination gave me opportunities they never had - and set me on the path that has led to a successful career in banking and politics.

I'm grateful for everything they did for me. And it's why I know that immigration makes the United Kingdom a richer, stronger and more prosperous place. Regardless of which side of the Brexit debate you fall on, our departure from the EU presents us with a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reshape our immigration system for the better.

Yesterday, I spent the morning in Belfast holding productive discussions on the future immigration system with representatives from businesses based in Northern Ireland. It's vital we hear from all parts of the UK about their immigration needs so we have a blueprint that works for everyone

It was fantastic to engage with the business community and hear their views of businesses in the tourism, agriculture and education sectors about how we best control our borders and ensure they can access the skilled workers they need to flourish.

We have already set up advisory groups with employers and organisations such as CBI Northern Ireland, Hospitality Ulster, Northern Ireland Agri-Food Alliance and the local chamber of commerce. I believe our proposals will work for Northern Ireland because with immigration at sustainable levels our dynamic economy will continue to grow and our diverse society prospers.

It will mean businesses in Northern Ireland will be able to access the skills and talent that they need from across the globe, but also mean that we can control immigration and deliver on the EU referendum result.

Our new immigration system will remove the cap on skilled workers to allow business to access the people they need, abolish the Resident Labour Market Test, widen the skills threshold to make medium-skilled workers eligible under the new skilled workers route, and bring in a simplified and streamlined all-digital sponsorship system reducing the burden on businesses.

There will continue to be no limit on the number of international students who can come to Northern Ireland to study and under the new system undergraduates and postgraduates will be able to stay in the UK for six months after finishing their degrees to find work. Anyone who has completed a PhD will be able to stay for a year.

While we can look forward to these proposals coming into effect over the coming years, I have already made changes to our immigration system to deliver what our nation needs.

In the last year, I've removed the cap on doctors and nurses coming to the UK to ensure our NHS can recruit the people it needs to provide world class healthcare. I've also set up new visa routes that enhance the UK's offer to overseas entrepreneurial talent to ensure the UK remains a world-leading destination for business.

At the same time, we are delivering for EU citizens who have already made Britain and Northern Ireland their home. In March, the EU Settlement Scheme became fully operational and to date over 750,000 people have applied.

Whilst Irish citizens do not need to apply, I am very pleased that by the end of April 2019 there were over 6,000 applications from EU citizens living in Northern Ireland.

We are looking to grant status, not refuse and I am determined that no-one is left behind.

It's why this week we announced that 57 organisations including Advice NI, South Tyrone Empowerment Programme and International Organisation for Migration (IOM) are receiving a share of £9m available to support an estimated 200,000 vulnerable EU citizens across the UK to make an application.

As we leave the EU, I'm determined to build a modern immigration system that delivers for the United Kingdom and puts us in the best position to capitalise on the opportunities that Brexit presents.

  • Sajid Javid MP is the Home Secretary and a Conservative Party leadership contender

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