Wednesday 3 October 2018 1:00 AM UTC
LONDON Oct 3: British Prime Minister Theresa May yesterday unveiled a major post-Brexit overhaul of the UK’s immigration system, which she said is aimed at a level playing field for nationals from all countries by ending “freedom of movement once and for all” for European Union (EU) citizens.
Indians may benefit from the new rules, which focus on highly-skilled migration as opposed to low-skilled workers.
“When we leave (EU) we will bring in a new immigration system that ends freedom of movement once and for all. For the first time in decades, it will be this country that controls and chooses who we want to come here,” May said.
“It will be a skills-based system where it is workers’ skills that matter, not where they come from,” she added.
“The UK government said the new so-called skills-based system will make sure low-skilled immigration is brought down and set the UK on the path to reduce immigration to sustainable levels,” said a key manifesto pledge of the ruling Conservative Party.
The new regime is expected to be in place by 2021 once the transition period for Britain’s exit from the EU is complete.
Under rules for skilled workers, applicants will continue to be required to meet a minimum salary threshold, which may be hiked further, and have their families sponsored by their future employers.
“Successful applicants for high skilled work would be able to bring their immediate family but only if sponsored by their future employers,” the statement issued by the government noted.
There are also plans to introduce in-country security checks to be carried out to make operations faster at passport control at borders, a similar system of prior authorization currently operated by the US.
This new swift system of e-gate visa checks for visitors coming into the UK on short-stay tourist/business trips will be limited to low-risk countries, which is unlikely to include India.
A White Paper detailing exactly how the new system will work will be published in the coming weeks, ahead of a new Immigration Bill to be laid out before the Parliament next year, the government said.
The announcement was widely expected since the Migration Advisory Committee had last month called for an end to preferential access to EU workers after Brexit.
Under the EU’s current free-movement rules, citizens from within the 28-member economic bloc are able to look for work on arrival as opposed to strict visa norms that apply to non-EU workers from countries like India.
The current cap on skilled workers is 20,700 per year for migrants from non-EU countries like India, something the committee had recommended should be done away with.
UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid will lay out some of the contours of the new plans as part of his speech to ongoing Conservative Party annual conference in Birmingham today.
Migration remains a highly contentious issue, with control over borders to end free movement of people from member countries having played a crucial part in the campaign for leaving EU in Brexit referendum.
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