Let them come

Think tank: Adam Smith Institute

Author(s): Ben Ramanauskas

March 16, 2022

This report from UK think tank the Adam Smith Institute looks at how the UK can help Ukrainians.

This report argues that the UK should waive all visa requirements for Ukrainian nationals and make it easier for highly skilled Russian and Belarusians to move to the UK. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is causing immense suffering for the people of Ukraine. The majority of Russian and Belarusian citizens are also victims of their own governments. The UK Government should temporarily waive visa requirements for all Ukrainians and allow them to live, work, and study in the UK. This temporary protection should last for at least five years (more generous than the EU and current UK policies), accompanied by existing paths for asylum, longer term visas and citizenships. The visa system should be reformed to make it far easier for highly skilled people and their close relatives (properly vetted) from Russia and Belarus to move to the UK. A new characteristic should be added to our points-based system, granting 20 points for “Target Nation Status”. A “Liberty Pass” should be created to attract the most highly skilled to the UK from countries suffering from conflict or oppressive regimes, including Ukraine, Russia and Belarus. This would both provide a fast tracked £1,875 payment for three months for those set to take advantage of the Global Talent Visa or under the Ukrainian visa waiver (who meet the same talent criteria), as well as waive visa fees. There is a strong moral case to be made for offering refuge to people fleeing war and persecution. An influx of workers, especially those who are highly skilled, will bring huge economic benefits to the UK. An exodus of highly skilled workers from Russia and Belarus will damage their economies and credibility, rightly punishing their leaders, helping to undermine their grip on power and reducing their capacity to develop military capabilities. It will be a boost to the UK’s international reputation as the country will be seen as welcoming to refugees and standing up for freedom.