More UK working holiday visas are key to a global Britain, says think tank

The Guardian

The immigration policies, and the Windrush scandal, are undermining British Prime Minister Theresa May’s goal of achieving a “global Britain”

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Students collects their visa at the UK Visa Application Centre in Leighton Centre, Causeway Bay.

If you hold a Hong Kong passport, then you already have the right to work in Britain for two years. However, a think tank has said that more people should be allowed to apply for a working holiday visa to the country. At the moment, only people from Hong Kong, Australia, Canada, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, South Korea, and Taiwan are allowed to apply for a tier-5 youth mobility visa. This visa allows people aged 18-30 to live, work, or study in Britain for two years.

The think tank in question, Bright Blue, said British Prime Minister Theresa May’s immigration policies undermined her vision of a “global Britain”.

The “hostile environment” policies, introduced by May when she was Home Secretary, are being criticised in the wake of the Windrush scandal. The government wanted to reduce the number of immigrants in the country. Policies were introduced to make staying in Britain as difficult as possible for people who moved to the country soon after the second world war. 

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The Conservative government is currently facing calls to make their immigration policy more free. Bright Blue said an expansion of the working holiday visa programme would help achieve this goal.

Ryan Shorthouse, Bright Blue’s director, said: “One of the best ways of achieving a ‘global Britain’ is by enabling talented people from around the world to live, work, invest, and study in this country. And, of course, for Britons to be able to do the same in other countries. This two-way migration strengthens Britain’s economic prosperity and cultural influence.”

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The think tank said the visa should be rebranded as the “citizens of the world visa programme”.

Bright Blue said the youth mobility visa should be expanded to include Commonwealth countries that met basic human rights conditions.

The visas are offered on a reciprocal, or give-and-take, basis – meaning that the same number of visas are available each year for British citizens to live, work, or study in the partner country. Applicants must prove they have enough money to support themselves in Britain, including GB£1,890 (HK$19,800) in savings.

Edited by Ginny Wong