UK immigration shake-up to prioritise skills and means

People standing in front of EU and UK flags

The UK has confirmed that lower-skilled – and lower-earning – EU workers will no longer have an automatic right to come and work in the UK after Brexit.

This came as the UK issued a new white paper on proposed shake-ups to its immigration systems, which are intended to come in from 2021 (ie. after the Brexit transition period if the UK leaves with a deal).

The measures, which will feed into a new immigration bill, also look to make sure that the UK continues to have the levels of skilled immigrants it needs.

They include:

  • Removing a current cap on the number of (non-EU) skilled migrants, such as doctors, who may enter the UK (at present 20,700)
             
  • Consulting on minimum salary requirements for a five-year visa, at a proposed level of ₤30,000 (note: a salary requirement of ₤30,000 is already in place for some visas for non-EU citizens)
                   
  • A proposal to allow ‘low-skilled’ workers to apply for visas with a validity period of up to one year
                       
  • No visa requirements for ordinary visitors from the UK (eg. those coming on holiday or to visit friends and family)

Home Sectretary Sajid Javid said the UK wants to bring net migration down to more “sustainable levels”.

He added the revamped rules will amount to "a single, skills-based immigration system, based around the talent and expertise people can bring, rather than where they come from”.

If the UK leaves with the negotiated Brexit deal then it will be required to allow EU citizens to continue to come under the current EU rules on free movement to work (as well as free movement to non-workers on the basis of having health cover and sufficient means).

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UK to only accept highly paid and skilled EU citizens

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