The Conservative plan for immigration after Brexit

The Conservative Party has confidently won the December general election and a mandate for their policy of an “Australian-style points based system” for immigration.

Here are the following key changes the Conservative government plans to make after Brexit:

1. A points-based system

The single new system will allocate points on a range of criteria. It will categorise newly arrived immigrants into three separate categories: 

  • ‘Exceptional talent / contribution – highly educated migrants who have received world-leading awards or otherwise demonstrated exceptional talent, sponsored entrepreneurs setting up a new business or investors. These will not require a job offer and will receive fast-track entry.
  • ‘Skilled workers’ – workers who meet the criteria of the points-based system and have a confirmed job offer. Special types – such as our NHS Visa – will also receive fast-track entry and reduced fees.
  • ‘Sector-specific rules-based’ – made up of specific temporary schemes such as for low-skilled labour, youth mobility or short term visits (e.g., touring). These will be revised on an ongoing basis based on expert advice from the MAC. These visas will be time-limited and will not provide a path to settlement.

Once the free movement is ended and electronic travel authorisation (ETAs) is introduced, all prospective migrants will be screened on the basis of previous criminality, and those with serious convictions will be barred from coming to the UK.

2. A new role of the Migration Advisory Committee (‘the MAC’)

The MAC will be required to publish an annual report via a public letter to the Home Secretary, advising the Government on how to deliver on its objectives – i.e. to get net migration down while addressing emerging gaps in the labour market – including sector specific advice.

The MAC will continue to perform advisory functions and the Home Secretary will have full discretion over decisions related to the future immigration system.

The MAC will also be required to monitor the needs of the labour market on an ongoing basis to ensure that the Home Secretary has the information needed to make decisions rapidly.

Once the new digital immigration status is in place, this will enable the MAC to better understand the impact of immigration on specific communities. 

3. A digital immigration status to combat illegal overstaying beyond 2022

Beyond 2022, all migrants will have a full digital status, making it easier for legal migrants to prove their status, as well as allowing for improved enforcement.

All visas will be time-limited, with usual indefinite leave to remain rules applying for those who are identified as ‘exceptional’ or ‘high-skilled’. In-country switching between visas will be allowed, but overstaying a visa will count against an individual in their new application.

All migrants will pay the health surcharge for every year of their visa, unless and until they have gained settled status – usually not before they have been here for five years.

There is a provision for equal treatment of EEA and non-EEA migrants’ regarding access to benefits, making sure people pay in before they can take out.  

In order to achieve the government will:

  • Immediately begin work to set up a formal exchange programme with the Australian and Canadian governments to allow experts to come to the UK and share best practice with officials during the development of the system.
  • Appoint an expert implementation group to ensure roll-out of the new immigration system from January 2021.

Posted on Dec 13, 2019.

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