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A balanced centre-right agenda on immigration: a manifesto for immigration

Bright Blue, the independent think tank for liberal conservatism and home of Conservative modernisers, has launched ‘A manifesto for immigration’, recommending about 30 new policy ideas on immigration for the Conservative Party to adopt in its upcoming General Election manifesto.   Bright Blue’s manifesto draws on four priorities for centre-right voters, opinion formers and decision makers that were identified in two earlier papers from its year-long immigration project: that the Government competently manages the immigration system, that a contributory-based immigration system is built, that more integration of immigrants is encouraged, and that a balance is achieved whereby government better maximises the benefits and tackles the challenges that immigration brings.


The report includes the following main policy recommendations: Government machinery and performance


  • that the Minister for Immigration sit in at least two government departments, including the Home Office and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
  • that the net migration target be abandoned and replaced with a target on gross non-EU migration, excluding international students.
  • that the net migration target be replaced as the focus of government policy with new IKPIs (Immigration Key Performance Indicators) for the four main categories of immigration: work, students, family and asylum applicants/refugees. Government would be held to account for these IKPIs, and propose new ones, through an annual Migration Day (similar to the Budget). The Migration Advisory Committee would have a new role in assessing the performance and impact of the immigration system (similar to the Office for Budget Responsibility with regard to the Budget).



  • that all new migrants excluding refugees and students pay a new class of National Insurance – Immigration National Insurance Contributions (INICs) – for two years to contribute to the funding of public services.
  • that the top tier of governance in each major city (e.g. Greater London Authority and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority) should be able to endorse visas for entrepreneurs.



  • that international students be allowed to be self-employed for up to 20 hours a week, which their current visa does not permit.
  • that international students be allowed to stay in the UK for 12 months after their studies to help them find a job (rather than the current 4 months); to get a Tier 2 visa, we recommend that the minimum salary needed (currently £20,500) is regionalised, with London being the highest salary at the current level.



  • that a British citizen be allowed to get a family visa for their spouse and children if they meet the current minimum income threshold or have paid income tax consistently for the past 2.5 years.


Refugees and asylum applicants

  • that the government increases the number of refugees admitted into the UK through the UNHCR gateway programme and from Syria.
  • a new time limit on detention of immigrants of 28 days.



  • that the Migration Impacts Fund (MIF) be re-established, which allows Local Authorities, voluntary organisations and Clinical Commissioning Groups to bid for additional resources if they are experiencing high levels of immigration in their local area.
  • that the government increase funding to MIF if it fails to meet the new gross target on non-EU migration, in the year up to Migration Day.
  • that migrants should have to prove they are learning or have learnt English on an approved English Language course to get any benefit, not just out-of-work benefits
  • that all migrants be able to access income-contingent loans, which are currently available to mature students studying at FE colleges, to pay for accessing approved English Language courses.
  • that citizenship be attainable in 3 years, rather than 5 years, if a migrant has paid National Insurance consistently for 3 years, has learnt English and has volunteered for at least 100 hours.