UK Archaeologists STOP, STOP right now, advocating to bring archaeologists from war torn countries to the UK to work – its a really bad idea

Posted on March 22, 2022


On Twitter, several people have started a pressure campaign on CBA (Council for British Archaeology), CIfA (Charter Institute for Archaeologists) and FAME (Federation of Archaeological Managers and Employers) to do more about Ukraine. I am going to side step lots of issues around that idea e.g. the racism involved in only advocating jobs for “white” people, etc. and focus on one of their demands – getting Ukrainian Archaeologists visas to work in the UK. Why just this problem? Well, it is coming up a more recently with world events and the points raised here applies to everyone trying to advocate for such a ‘programme/program’. I suspect this will be evergreen content for a long while.

I get it, something bad has happened in the world and you feel helpless and want to help BUT there is a difference between helping and trying to help but actually hurting. You need to do your research first before trying to “help”. The UK immigration system, like most, is designed to discourage migration of any kind, by being cruel and expensive. Having gone through it, I would not wish it on any of my enemies and there are some people I really, really hate. Let me just highlight three examples of how it is completely unworkable and cruel to even suggest anyone, not just those in war torn countries, go through it.

1. Cost. When a person applies for a visa they must pay the costs upfront at the application. An employer can reimburse but they have to pay via card first, at the point of application. As of now (March 2022), that is £928, per person, for the application (note this is the discounted rate because archaeology is on the shortage occupation list). A family of four would then be £3,712. That is just the application fee. You also have to pay an NHS fee – yes, their taxes will pay for it when they work so this is double taxation. NHS is £624 per person, per year, so a five year work visa for family of 4 is 4 x £624 x 5 = £12,480 + £3712 = £16,192, Do you have £16,192 just laying around? Why would anyone in a war zone? Also, that is immediate family only = your kids/partner. Your parents, out of luck. Why 5 years? 5 years is what you need before you can apply for leave to remain/leave. You could get a visa for less than 5 years and thus cut upfront costs but they will have to do five years at some point. If you did two years to start and then did another 3 years you have to pay the application fee again + NHS fee for that new visa, which both fees will go up (all have gone up above inflation for a decade now). So in the long term the cheapest you will pay is £16,192 for a family of four. You could try to make it more workable in the short term but that just means more money they have to pay in the long term. Even a single person is £4k, upfront costs, on a card the UK accepts f.y.i most card payment systems don’t work in war zones or won’t accept cards from certain countries i.e. ones at war.

2. it is indentured servitude. Your visa is tied to your employer. If you lose your job, you have 60 days to get a new one or get out. Overstaying past that 60 days gets you deported and banned from the UK for 10 yrs! Now some people will be reading this and be thinking what happens if you have a “bad employer”? Or conversely you have a good employer but we are heading into a recession and they need to lay off half their staff? Or they are good, you are good, but together your personalities don’t match – no fault, it just does not work out. To change employers means repaying all those fees again. Visas can not be transferred, you have reapply and pay £16k for a family of four again. Do you have £16k? I am guessing not so you won’t have £32k either. Basically, it is indentured servitude. Pray your master is kind/ you get along with them because you are very unlikely to be able to change.

3. the countries people are getting all worked up about – well people from those countries have to register with the police. They have register within 7 days of arrive at a police station AND pay for it, £30+ to register. If you move; have to re-register, which if you are in temporary accommodation, like most immigrates are at first, is pretty much guaranteed. They may come as a shock to people but the Police are not universally loved. In many places the police regularly shake everyone down for money. Imagine coming from a country where the police are not your friend and expecting to go register with them? Or look at it another way – you don’t have to register with the police – it is super insulting to treat others like a criminal when they have done nothing wrong but flee a war torn country. Pretty fucked up, isn’t it?

Just some of the countries citizens have to register from – Ukraine, Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan, Armenia and Azerbaijan, etc.

That is just 3 of like 50+ examples of how the system is degrading, expensive, dangerous and I didn’t even get to how time consuming it is. So please, please do some research before you start trying to get people into one of the cruelest, most expensive systems they will ever encounter. Seriously, you all are smart people and can Google, please Google before you start trying to “help”.

If you are thinking well then we should get CIfA, FAME, CBA, etc. to make the system better. Yeah, they are doing that but… well, lets review how that went: CIfA and FAME, through DCMS, had a a session with the Home Office about the current system. Employers, the people the Conservation party says they bend over backwards for, were invited to talk about the system. The Home Office told us to fuck off, fuck right the way off, about any suggestions for change. Because a certain group of people hold disproportionate electoral power in England i.e. your UKIP/Reform/Fascist, that is not going to change until the next election/Scottish IR for most anyone, and even then, it might not change. Yelling at CIfA is not going to change that. You getting involved in ensuring there is a change at the next election will, so do that and in the meantime STOP.