68. Under Tiers 1 and 2 immigrants are able to bring
spouses and dependant children to the UK. The UK Border Agency
consultation asked whether the cap should apply to dependants
as well as main applicants, although it further stated that the
Government has no current plans to change existing policy for
dependants. The ratio
of main applicants to dependants under Tiers 1 and 2 has been
in the order of 5:4, meaning that dependants account for almost
half of non-EEA economic immigrant visas (see table 4). Migration
Watch argued that dependants should be included in the cap: its
Chairman, Sir Andrew Green, told us "we're talking population
so we have to include dependants, but you have to set the cap
knowing that you've included dependants".
Professor Metcalf agreed that dependants would have to be included
in some form:
to reach the tens of thousands from the hundreds
of thousands, you've got to be thinking about dependants. You
cannot leave them out of the equation. When you do your cap, you
can do it on the main people and assume that the ratio will be
five main and four dependants, or you can do it in total and include
the dependants...If you have 20,000 main people and 18,000 dependants,
you can operate the cap 20,000 main or 38,000 total.
69. However, other witnesses argued that it could
be economically unsound as well as unfair in principle to include
dependants in the cap. The Immigration Law Practitioners' Association
argued against their inclusion, on the grounds that "measuring
the effects of the cap and adjusting it to the needs of the economy
becomes complex if not impossible if some included in the limit
are skilled workers and others babies". It suggested that
the inclusion of dependants would risk discrimination on the grounds
of age and gender. It also noted that treating migrants differently
on the grounds of marital status or having children might risk
engaging Articles 8 and 12, read with Article 14, of the European
Convention of Human Rights and the Human Rights Act 1998, which
protected the rights to respect for family and private life, and
to marry and found a family.
Professor Metcalf told us:
We've agonised about this issue because by definition
in a cap world a dependant displaces a worker and, therefore,
it raises very delicate issues. I don't think one wants to be
saying to people, "well, you can't bring dependants".
Indeed, it would almost certainly not be lawful.
70. The British Hospitality Association raised the
question of whether dependants who joined an immigrant at a later
stage would contribute towards the cap for the period in which
they arrived, subsequent to the period of the main applicant.
This could raise awkward questions about dependants 'taking away'
visa allocation from skilled immigrants in a later period.
71. Under Tiers 1 and 2 there have been approximately
the same number of main applicants and dependants, a ratio of
5:4. The immigration figures cited by the Government include dependants,
indicating that, if it is to meet its target of reducing immigration
to 'tens of thousands', dependants will have to be accounted for
in some form. As Professor Metcalf set out, a cap could either
be applied to main applicants with the assumption that
there will be approximately the same number again of dependantsor
to the combined total of main applicants and dependants.
72. The evidence we received argued against applying
the cap directly to dependants, since a dependant might displace
a main applicant whose skills were needed, and we are pleased
that the Government has stated it has no plans to change the policy
towards dependants. We therefore recommend that Tier 1 and 2 limits
should apply to main applicants only, and we recognise that the
cap will consequently only represent half of the total number
of immigrants being issued with visas. The Government must make
explicit the way in which dependants will be counted in contributing
to the overall reduction in immigrants, and make its policy clear
to the public.
98 UK Border Agency, Limits on non-EU economic migration:
a consultation, June 2010, p 10 Back
Q 270 and Ev 50 Back
Q 157 Back
Ev 56 Back
Q 156 Back
Ev w29 Back