Monday, February 04, 2008

UK Takes Further Initiatives to Securities Borders with the New-Points System and A Hike in Immigration Fees

Ishita Dey

On 31 January 2008, UK Home Office announced a hike in its immigration fees as one of its measures to improve border security over the next twelve months. It is not the first measure that UK has adopted to control its borders. In the recent past there has been many an attempts to close its borders or rather to make space for those whom Britain needs. A month back on 5 December 2007, UK Home Secretary Jacqui Smith outlined the forthcoming new immigration system for the United Kingdom during a speech at the London School of Economics. She spoke on the new immigration rules coming next year, including English requirements for prospective migrants, mandatory ID cards for foreign nationals living in the UK, stricter rules on bringing foreign spouses to the country, and details of the new points based system. The very systematic demarcation of citizens and non-citizens is an age-old phenomenon and in the recent times especially after the recent civilian atrocities in USA and to combat terrorism one of the basic areas of intervention that the state has chose is to classify and categorise through different surveillance mechanisms in the name of human security. Securitisation of borders in the recent times has been schematized with the global human capital in mind.

Global labour movements are being controlled in a systematic fashion. On 5 December 2007, the new points systems introduced by the UK home office was another initiative aimed at ensuring only workers with skills who could enhance UK’s GDP would be encouraged. The new points system is clearly an attempt to attract global labour to meet the demand of Britain’s needs rather than securitisation of the human capital. This initiative is an incessant attempt to securitise the European Union from encroachers. While in most of the international summits many a declarations are being adopted without being cynical One really wonders at what kind of human security are we really looking forward to. Are we heading for a “human security” that implies militarisation and control of borders rather than livelihood security?

Do questions of livelihood security figure in the agenda of the policy makers of immigration policy? Under the newly introduced new-points system, the application category has been devised according to five tiers. Tier 1, for highly skilled migrants, will has been broken into four sub-categories, including general highly skilled migrants, entrepreneurs, investors, and foreign graduate students of UK educational institutions. Tier 2 will be applicable for skilled workers who have a job offer. Tier 3 will be for a limited numbers of lower skilled workers to fill temporary shortages in the labour market and with this the low skilled category of workers will be suspended. Tier 4 for students and Tier 5 will be for youth mobility and temporary workers, such as those who come under Working Holiday agreements with other countries. Migrants coming under Tiers 1 & 2 need to have proficiency in English. Currently, migrants are only required to show knowledge of English when applying for permanent residence or citizenship. There is also a move to make basic knowledge of the English Language for international spouses.
UK Home Secretary Jacqui Smith in her address in London School of economics, observed that around 50,000 people were allowed entry to UK as spouse or fiancé and there should be some expectation as she stated, "I think it's fair that we should now set out our expectation that they're able to speak English before they come here."

This in way reinstates that the very process of securitisation of borders moves beyond mere territorial understanding of a geographic locale; rather it is a way to create secure stratified spaces with limited access to livelihood opportunities for people on the move.


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