UK Immigration Roundup – May to June 2024

Published on: 11/06/2024


As the UK approaches the upcoming general election, immigration remains a focal issue in political discussions.

The Conservative Party’s recent proposal to cap visas for skilled migrant workers has alarmed various industries who are concerned that a limit to migration could harm vital sectors of the UK economy. Industries such as tourism, hospitality, construction, and manufacturing are particularly concerned about the repercussions of limiting migrant labour. Representatives from these sectors argue that the political narrative fails to recognise the UK’s dependency on migrant workers, cautioning that strict immigration caps could worsen existing skill shortages, reduce productivity, and drive a shift towards automation in certain jobs.

Since the early 2000s, the percentage of migrant workers in the UK has risen from 9% to 19%, according to the Office for National Statistics. Industry leaders stress the need to invest in skills development for the resident workforce and support employment initiatives to prevent caps on migration from exacerbating existing labour shortages.

The ongoing debate on whether to cap or facilitate migrant work highlights the intricate balance policymakers must maintain between reducing net migration and ensuring economic stability.

In 2024, the education sector faced new restrictions on international students, such as bans on bringing dependants and possible changes to the UK Graduate visa scheme, creating significant uncertainty. The latest Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) world university rankings highlight these challenges, with 52 out of 90 UK universities falling in rank. At the same time, Imperial College London made a notable ascent to second place globally — surpassing Oxford University. Experts warn that ongoing funding pressures could harm the international reputation of UK universities and even lead to closures. These rankings emphasise the urgent need for increased support and investment in the higher education sector to maintain its global competitiveness.

The Labour Party has pledged to investigate the exploitation of migrant workers in the British social care sector if they win the upcoming election. Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper condemned the reported mistreatment and accused the current government of neglecting the issue. Labour plans to support the Royal College of Nursing’s call for a comprehensive inquiry into the experiences of these workers. Reports indicate that some migrant care workers have been left stranded in the UK with significant debts and little to no work, despite promises of employment. Labour’s proposed investigation aims to uphold standards and hold exploitative employers accountable. To enforce these measures, a new regulatory body is planned to oversee the crackdown on exploitation in the care sector.

The Liberal Democrats have also criticised the Conservatives’ handling of immigration and their apparent inaction on this issue, underscoring the need for a thorough investigation. As the UK gears up for the general election and potential changes in migration policies, it is crucial for individuals and organisations to stay informed about current regulations. Both the Conservative and Labour parties emphasise their firm stances on migration, leading industry leaders to worry that stringent measures could harm essential sectors of the economy.

If you have any questions, please contact our Immigration team, who would be happy to help.


This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking professional and legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.