News | Published February 19 2020

Government denies visas for “low-skilled” migrants

Plans unveiled by the government have revealed that “low-skilled” workers will not be granted visas after Brexit according to their new immigration plans.

Free movement is set to end on 31 December, and the Home Office have said that both EU and non-EU citizens will be treated the same from this point.

According to the Labour party, the decision will create a "hostile environment" making it difficult to incentivise workers to move to the UK.

Priti Patel, the current Home Secretary, contests this belief, stating that the reformed system will bring "the brightest and the best" to work in the UK.

Patel continued that she hoped to "reduce the levels of people coming to the UK with low skills” instead encouraging “people with the right talent" to immigrate to the UK.

She believes that the system will "make sure that we have a high-skilled, highly trained and highly productive economy in the future".

The introduction of a points-based system, similar to the one currently used in Australia, has been proposed for immigrants hoping to come to the UK following the end of the transition period.

In keeping with the promise made in their election manifesto, the points-based system would reward a range of attributes, including being able to speak English, and having a promise of a skilled job with an associated “approved sponsor”. Filing these criteria would provide 50 points in total.

Immigrants would have to receive a total of 70 points to be allowed to work in the UK, with alternative points offered for the salary they were expected to receive, working in a sector which suffered from shortages and assorted qualifications. 

However, the government will not extend these criteria to jobs they deem “low-skilled”.

The salary threshold for skilled workers has been set at £25,600, more pay than an academic researcher would receive.

Dianne Abbott has criticised the threshold, saying it would "need to have so many exemptions, for the NHS, for social care and many parts of the private sector, that it will be meaningless".

Visitors will be allowed into the country for a total of six months, during which time they will not be allowed to work, and work permits will not be issued for those in jobs in restaurants, hotels, care homes and food processing plants.

In order to be granted any income-related benefits, migrants will have to be granted indefinite leave to remain, which is currently offered after five years in the country.

Instead, they have said that: "It is important employers move away from a reliance on the UK's immigration system as an alternative to investment in staff retention, productivity and wider investment in technology and automation. "

They have proposed that the current 3.2 million EU citizens who have applied to remain in the UK will be used to meet the demands of the labour market.

CBI’s director general, Carolyn Fairbairn, has voiced the lobby group’s concern, stating that: "Firms know that hiring from overseas and investing in the skills of their workforce and new technologies is not an 'either or' choice - both are needed to drive the economy forward."

This concern is supported by the director of Oxford's Migration Observatory, Madeleine Sumption, who has noted that the new system will be to the detriment of specific industries who are reliant upon low wage workers.

She added: "Some employers will be able to adjust maybe by introducing more labour-saving techniques, such as machinery.

"In some cases that won't be feasible and for them the questions are: can they find other sources of workers; will they produce less, or will they go out of business?"

It is believed that the government’s system reform will impact both the care industry and agriculture negatively.

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Authored by

Alice Jaspars
Culture Editor
February 19 2020

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