The current situation means that the number of visas granted for non-EU citizens is capped at 20,000 skilled workers per year.
Since this policy was introduced in 2012, the number of Australians in the UK has fallen by a large number. In 2011, the UK had 26,000 Australians whereas in 1999, there were 40,000, a decrease of 35%. The new proposal, which is predicted by some to come into effect towards the end of this year, would mean that Australians would be treated as an exception to the current non-EU migration policy.
The deal is not certain however as the UK Government have reservations about it. The concerns mainly involve the considerations of migration policy toward other commonwealth countries.
If the proposed change goes ahead, it would be good news for Australians wanting to move to the UK and would be likely to counteract the recent decline. In January 2014, a BBC article outlined the decline among young Australians who tend to settle in the UK cities of London, Edinburgh and Manchester. It used to be a well travelled path for many coming to explore Europe.
Apart from the change in visa policy, many Australians stayed at home due to the improved job prospects in Australia’s strong economy compared to in London and the rest of the UK, particularly during the Global Recession.
The Australian PM Tony Abbott recently visited the UK and it was widely reported that this issue was brought up and discussed with the UK Government during the visit. The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, is also in support of the changes. He wrote an article in The Telegraph last year explaining his vies on the UK’s strong cultural ties with Australia and the economic benefits of further strengthening ties with the country via migration policies.
Vince Cable, the UK’s Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills has also commented on his views with regards to the situation and has expressed his concern over the decline in skilled migrants moving to the UK in recent years.