Jersey has unveiled a plan to charge people who come to Jersey to work – and the companies they work for – as it looks to “control migration” while funding a skills development programme for locals.
In looking to control the numbers coming to live and work on its shores, Jersey joins a growing number of countries that have begun bolstering their existing immigration controls. As reported, such countries as Australia, New Zealand and the US announced measures aimed at stemming the flows of immigrants coming in to work within days of each other last month, while Saudi Arabia has been unveiling schemes designed to actually force expats to leave for some time, most recently a few days ago.
Typically the schemes are aimed at enabling locals to find work more easily as well as to reduce the pressure on housing and house prices.
Canada ended a popular immigrant visa scheme a few years ago, and in certain provinces has also introduced taxes on foreign housebuyers in an effort to cool overheated housing markets.
In a statement, Jersey said the “new annual fees for businesses employing registered staff and employment agencies placing registered staff”, as well as “a rise in the fees payable by contractors visiting Jersey”, were expected to raise some £600,000 a year, which would be used to fund investment in skills and training.
In Jersey, “registered” staff is the term used to apply to a category of individuals who aren’t from Jersey, haven’t lived there for 10 or more years, don’t classify as “essential” employees, and also don’t qualify for a type of worker who is “entitled for work” on the basis of having lived in Jersey for five consecutive years or who is married to someone who falls into one of the three categories.
The new fees for non-locals who work in Jersey are part of a package of fee increases being proposed under what is known as the Control of Housing and Work Law. In its statement, the Jersey government notes that fees of this type have not increased since the Control of Housing and Work Law was introduced four years ago.
Among the other new fees would be an increase in the amount new “high value residents” are required to pay for registration cards when they arrive, to £7,500 from £5,000.
Explaining the proposed new charges, which would need to be approved by the States of Jersey before coming into force on 1 November, assistant chief minister Paul Routier MBE said Jersey’s lawmakers supported “targeted and managed migration that improves productivity and protects our economy”.
He added: “We are an aging population in a changing and uncertain world, so we will continue to need people with new or specialised skills to move to Jersey. However, migration has been too high in recent years.”
Net migration seen high
According to the Jersey government, net migration to Jersey in 2015 was 1,500, and is expected to remain at a similar level for 2016.
The island’s resident population at the end of 2015 was estimated at 102,700, having increased by 11,700 over the past 10 years. Net migration is said to have accounted for three-quarters (75%) of that.
Most of the changes to the existing Control of Housing and Work Law spelled out by Jersey in a statement on its website will automatically come into force on the first of July, with one, which increases an existing fee for employing an “essential employee” taking effect on the first of November.
A new £500 fee to be levied on employment agencies for each “registered” candidates they place in a Jersey job, and a £50 fee “payable each year by business for each permission they hold to employ a ‘registered’ member of staff, excluding seasonal permissions”, will need to be approved by Jersey’s lawmakers and if approved, would come into force on 1 November.
To see the statement on the changes to the Control of Housing and Work Law on the Jersey Government’s website, click here.