British Interior Minister Priti Patel will say on Tuesday the government will end free movement and introduce an Australian-style points-based immigration system once the country leaves the European Union. As reported by Reuters, in her upcoming speech at the Conservative Party's annual conference, Patel will say her Brexit mission is:
To end the free movement of people once and for all. Instead, we will introduce an Australian-style points-based immigration system. One that works in the best interests of Britain. One that attracts and welcomes the brightest and the best. One that supports brilliant scientists, the finest academics and leading people in their fields. And one that is under the control of the British Government.
Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister who recently replaced Theresa May as Conservative Party leader, has been talking about this plan for immigration for some time now. "What I would like to do is get the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to look really properly at the Australian-style points-based system," he said back in June. The MAC is an independent body that advises the British Government.
In respect to Brexit, taking control of immigration was one of the key themes of the Leave campaign, while governments since 2010 have been committed to reducing net migration (that is the difference between people coming to the UK and leaving the UK) to below 100,000 a year - a target which has been missed repeatedly.
What's being proposed
In Australia, the new model of UK immigration, people who want to move to Australia to work generally need to be pursuing an occupation that is in demand (there are different visas for students or working holidays, for example). Applicants are assigned points based on a number of professional and personal characteristics, with higher points awarded for more desirable traits. This can range from the amount of time they have worked in a skilled sector, education level, age, and proficiency in the English language.
Being a competent English speaker is the minimum requirement but someone with "superior English" will earn 20 points. Being aged between 25 and 33 years old will get you 30 points. The threshold for eligibility is 65 points.
What's the current situation
Currently, those from within the EU do not need a visa to work in the UK because they benefit from "freedom of movement" - although there are limits on claiming certain benefits. For those from outside the EU, there are similarities to the Australian system. Points are awarded for having English language skills, being sponsored by a company and meeting a salary threshold. A maximum number of work visas are awarded - the cap is set at around 21,000 a year but isn't often met.
Madeleine Sumption, director of the Migration Observatory at University of Oxford, told the BBC:
There is only one way you can get in and that's if you meet all of those criteria. What the UK points system doesn't do is assess the individuals for things like their age and qualifications. The UK system trusts the employer to decide whether the person is qualified to do the job, while the Australian system is more centrally planned.
Relying on Brexit
The UK also does not have the sort of decentralized system as in Australia, in which different states may try to attract migrants with particular skills. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's Scottish Government is looking to introduce this sort of devolution.
Although many details are overshadowed by worries over the future of Brexit, Current government policy is that, after Brexit, skilled workers with a minimum salary of £30,000 will need to be sponsored by an employer. They will be able to bring dependants with them and there will be no cap on their numbers. There would also be a program for lower-skilled workers to come to the UK, but their visas would be limited to 12 months.
For the full story, please visit the BBC.
Updated: Wed, Oct 16th 2019 @ 10:25am EDT