UK Home Secretary Priti Patel on Wednesday unveiled a new point-based visa system to attract the “brightest and the best” from the world, including from India, and to reduce the number of cheap and low-skilled workers coming to the country.
The new system will come into force from January 1, 2021, at the end of the transition period after the UK’s exit from the European Union on January 31, which will formally end free movement of people within the economic bloc for the UK as a non-member.
The new post-Brexit system, which will apply equally to the EU and non-EU countries like India, is based on assigning points for specific skills, qualifications, salaries and professions, with visas only awarded to those who gain enough points.
“Today is a historic moment for the whole country. We’re ending free movement, taking back control of our borders and delivering on the people’s priorities by introducing a new UK point-based immigration system, which will bring overall migration numbers down,” said Patel, the senior-most Indian-origin Cabinet minister. “We will attract the brightest and the best from around the globe, boosting the economy and our communities,” Patel, in charge of the UK’s visa and immigration system, said.
Under the scheme, foreign workers who wanted to come to the UK would have to speak English and have the offer of a skilled job with an “approved sponsor”. They would be awarded 50 points if they fulfil these criteria.
In total, immigrants would have to reach 70 points to be able to work in the UK, with points also being awarded for qualifications, the salary on offer and working in a sector with shortages.
The UK Home Office said the new system is a direct response to the 2016 referendum in favour of Brexit, which was seen as a vote to end the country’s reliance on cheap migrant labour and reduce overall levels of migration with tighter security.
“The new single global system will treat the EU and non-EU citizens equally. It will give top priority to those with the highest skills and the greatest talents,” it said.