Adam Smith Inst - Help Ukrainians by Reforming the UKs Immigration System

From: Think Tanks
Published: Wed Mar 16 2022

Boost the UK's economy and cripple Putin's war machine by making it easier for Ukrainians and high-skilled Russians and Belarusians to come to the UK, says think-tank

  • Russia's invasion of Ukraine is causing immense suffering for the people of Ukraine, Russia and Belarus.
  • An influx of workers from these countries would bring huge economic benefits to the UK.
  • An exodus of skilled workers from Russia and Belarus would undermine their economies and build domestic pressure to sue for peace.

A new report, Let Them Come: How the UK Can Help Ukrainians, from the Adam Smith Institute (ASI) argues that the Government should temporarily waive visa requirements for Ukrainian refugees, and make it far easier for highly skilled Russians and Belarusians to come to the UK. This would boost the UK's economy and international standing, whilst crippling Putin's war machine and undermining his credibility.

Report author, Ben Ramanauskas, makes the moral and economic case for encouraging immigration from Ukraine, Russia and Belarus. Ukranians are fleeing from intolerable conflict, whilst Russians and Belarusians are being driven into poverty and are subjected to imprisonment by their authoritarian governments. These migrants could be welcomed to safety in the UK, where they could also contribute positively to the economy. The UK has a shortage of people studying and working in STEM; a gap which could be plugged, bringing with it additional benefits of boosting innovation in sectors such as engineering, technology and Artificial Intelligence.

As the paper outlines, encouraging highly skilled workers to leave Russia and Belarus would precipitate a decline in productivity and a negative effect on tax revenues in these countries, putting further pressure on Putin's regime to end the conflict. This would also garner support for the UK and would encourage Russians and Belarusians to play a leading role in the world as part of a liberal, rules-based order.

The report makes three recommendations:

  1. Temporarily waive visa restrictions for all Ukrainians, and carry out security checks once they have safely arrived in the UK, rather than before. Temporary protection should last for at least five years.

  2. Make it easier for highly skilled Russians and Belarusians to come to the UK by adding a Target Nation Status' characteristic to our points-based system, worth 20 points. Remittances should be banned in order to undermine the economies of these countries.

  3. Create a Liberty Pass' which would provide a fast tracked 1,875 payment to attract highly skilled immigrants from countries involved in the current conflict and potentially other repressive regimes.

Daniel Pryor, Head of Research at the Adam Smith Institute said:

The UK's response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine has so far been positive but doesn't go far enough. Morally, economically and politically, there is a strong case for following the EU in temporarily waiving visa requirements for all Ukrainians. We should also rob Putin's regime of its best and brightest by doing more to attract highly skilled Russians and Belarusians-who have been properly vetted-to our shores. Now is the time to act decisively as Global Britain.

Ben Ramanauskas, report author, said:

The illegal invasion of Ukraine has brought death, destruction, and misery to its people. As such, it is only right that the UK takes a leading role in offering refuge to the people of Ukraine. The Government should go further than its current plan by waiving visa requirements and giving every Ukrainian the opportunity to live, work, study, or claim benefits in the UK for up to five years, with the option to apply for permanent citizenship.

We should also take this opportunity to reform the UK's immigration system. The UK should become more welcoming to refugees while also making it easier for talented workers from oppressive regimes to move here. Such a move is not only morally right, it will bring huge economic benefits to the UK, demonstrate to the world that Britain believes in freedom, and weaken the regimes of tyrants such as Putin.

Notes to editors:

For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Emily Fielder, | 0758 477 8207.

Ben Ramanauskas has worked in numerous roles including public policy, academia, and most recently as an adviser to the UK's Secretary of State for International Trade.

The report is now live on the Adam Smith Institute website and is available here.

The Adam Smith Institute is a free market, neoliberal think tank based in London. It advocates classically liberal public policies to create a richer, freer world.

Company: Think Tanks

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