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London Mayor leads calls for change to UK immigration law for Australians

November -0001, 30
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Boris Johnson, the eccentric mayor of London, has led calls for wholesale changes to be introduced in the UK immigration laws.

Mr Johnson, currently in Australia, has suggested that the unlimited immigration rules which apply to EU nationals should be extended and slammed previous governments for 'betraying' old Commonwealth nations.

The mayor's outburst came after he met an Australian teacher who was forced to leave the UK after her employer refused to apply to become a Tier 2 registered sponsor, the minimum requirement for a non-EU skilled worker.

London Mayor
Current legislation

under the current rules, all non-EU individuals who wish to work in the UK must apply for a visa, which in the case of a teacher would most likely be a Tier 2 Visa. Before being accepted, the person would also have to demonstrate they had been offered a job by an employer who was registered as a Tier 2 sponsor.

Whilst it's entirely possible to meet the above criteria, it requires the potential employer to go through the process of becoming a registered sponsor, an extra burden which some simply aren't prepared to shoulder, regardless of the skill of the worker. Of course, there are many employers who are registered Tier 2 sponsors, but competition for jobs is high.

Boris Johnson is proposing changes to UK visa requirements

However, the same rules do not apply for EU residents.

Any EU national (excluding Bulgaria and Romania) may work in the UK without the need to obtain   a visa. From January 2014 this right will extend to Bulgarian and Romanian nationals as well.

UK Visa
But when the UK joined the European Economic Community (the predecessor to the UK) residents from Commonwealth countries, such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand were not afforded the same rights to work freely. And it is this 'betrayal' as Mr Johnson describes it, that he believes should now be put right.


Helping workers emigrate to the UK

Mr Johnson has admitted there were many valid reasons why setting up a 'preferential trading arrangement' with Europe was necessary in 1973, but has insisted that times have now changed.

The recent near-collapse of the euro and the on-going financial woes of the EU have both had a negative impact on the British economy, despite the relative autonomy. Meanwhile, in direct contrast, the rest of the world has seen established and steady growth which promises to continue.

The mayor believes the time has come for Britain to stretch her wings and try to re-establish the links that were severed nearly 40 years ago and claims the best way to do this would be to create a new Free Labour Mobility Zone between the UK and Australia.

Mr Johnson said that with a shared cultural heritage, the UK and Australia are possibly the two most closely connected countries on the planet and believes a working agreement would take advantage of the links. He went on to suggest that this would be beneficial for both Brits and Australians.

But far from being an exclusive arrangement, Mr Johnson believes it should also incorporate other Commonwealth nations such as New Zealand and Canada, who also share much of their roots with the UK.

Time to take a stand

Mr Johnson conceded that the idea may not be particularly popular in Europe and that if proposed, the EU could try and veto the move. However, in true Boris-style he suggested that the simple solution would be to firmly tell the EU to 'stuff it'.

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