The Liberal Democrats continue their discussions with both the Conservative Party and Labour Party. There are considerable difficulties in reaching agreement with either political party.
Many commentators have suggested that the Liberal Democrats politically have more in common with the the Labour Party. Both the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats can loosely be described as being "centre left". The Conservative Party is seen to be more right wing than the other parties. However, under the leadership of David Cameron since 2005 the Conservative Party has become much more a "Centre Party".
A summary of the immigration policies of the three political parties is as follows:
- Bring down net immigration levels by introducing a limit on the number of migrants from outside the EU. It is interesting to note that the Conservatives have yet to confirm how many immigrants would be allowed into the UK.
- The current points based system would continue. Only economic migrants who will "bring the most value to the economy" will be allowed entry to the UK.
- Set up a National Border Police Force with the power to stop, search, detain and arrest. To a great extent this has already been done.
- Provide easier access to English language training and making it a requirement that a spouse or partner coming to the UK knows English.
- Changes to the points-based immigration system which may result in tougher immigration requirements in future.
- Expand the Migration Impacts Fund to provide funding to parts of the country which take in the most migrants. This may mean higher Government fees for immigration applications in future.
- Continue with the roll-out of compulsory ID cards for foreign nationals.
- Ensure migrants pass a tough English test before they are allowed entry to the UK.
- Create a National Border Force with police powers and reintroduce exit checks at all ports.
- There would an "earned route" to citizenship for illegal migrants who have been in the UK for 10 years, and who do not have a criminal record and who speak English. This would in effect be an "immigration amnesty".
- Give more control on immigration policy to the regions by having regional immigration policies.
- Changes to asylum policy including the establishment of an Independent Asylum Agency and also allowing asylum seekers to work.
- Higher Government fees for Tier 2 visa applications for businesses wishing to employ overseas workers from outside the EU.
Summary of differences between the main Political Parties
The main difference between the Conservative Party immigration policy and the policies of the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats is that the Conservatives intend to put a numerical limit on the number of immigrants allowed into the UK from outside the EU. The Labour Party intends to continue with changes to the immigration system that they first started to implement some years ago. Out of the main political parties it seems that the Liberal Democrats wish to make the greatest changes to immigration policy with the introduction of an "immigration amnesty", new regional immigration policies and reforms to the asylum system.
Probably an agreement will be made in the next few days that will allow the formation of a new Government. In the meantime, if you meet the requirements for an UK Tier visa or another visa you may wish to consider applying now before changes to the immigration system take place.