So, after the long wait for the English test certificate, we filed our application for our visa, and are now waiting for that to be processed. There is one new twist, though – the UK government, in their infinite wisdom (in their own eyes, at least), has recently brought in a cap on the number of visas that they issue. As of 19 July, the number of work visas is limited on a monthly basis. Once that cap is reached, your application gets rolled over to the following month.
As one does in this situation, I’ve been mulling over the impacts of this new twist, and mostly at around 3am. But most of this pondering is rather futile, as information about this cap is thin on the ground. There’s no way of knowing how many, or on what basis the cap is instituted. Absolute numbers, or linked to the points system somehow? World-wide, or per country? What happens when the number of cases rolling over is higher than the cap? All these questions are met with blank bureaucratic stares of blissful ignorance.
I then started thinking about unintended consequences. I’d imagine that there will now be a sudden rush to apply for visas in order to get in before a final cap is called. And likely, these would be the borderline cases, who would get a visa in normal times, but when competing for limited places, would come up short. Realising that their chance may well soon be over, they’ll be all over the consulate like orange on a naartjie. And so instead of satisfying the need for high-quality immigration candidates, the UK will likely end up with their quota filled with mediocre also-rans.
This brought me to thinking about unintended consequences in general. There’s a great video on TED well worth watching which touches on this. For instance – take France’s much publicised ban on head scarves. It should be common knowledge by now that banning something merely makes those who wanted to do it more resilient in their desire to do so. This is, after all, how revolutions are born. Learning from past experiences is highly undervalued, but in this case, there’s a directly comparable example from Turkey’s history. Ataturk wanted to do exactly what France is doing now, but instead of banning the veil, he merely made it compulsory for prostitutes to wear it. Problem solved.
I would have thought that the UK would have been better served by increasing the limit on their points system, or at least revisiting the make-up of the points system so that they target the most desirable individuals in a more orderly fashion. Well, if they need help, they know where to find me – they have all my details and then some on file.