The UK’s point-based immigration system: Policy statement

Introduction

The United Kingdom (UK) exited the European Union (EU) on 31 January 2020. This policy statement sets out how we will fulfil our commitment to the British public and take back control of our borders.

We are ending free movement and will introduce an Immigration Bill to bring in a firm and fair points-based system that will attract the high-skilled workers we need to contribute to our economy, our communities and our public services. We intend to create a high wage, high-skill, high productivity economy.

We will deliver a system that works in the interests of the whole of the UK and prioritises the skills a person has to offer, not where they come from.

For too long, distorted by European free movement rights, the immigration system has been failing to meet the needs of the British people. Failing to deliver benefits across the UK and failing the highly-skilled migrants from around the world who want to come to the UK and make a contribution to our economy and society.

Our approach will change all of this. We are implementing a new system that will transform the way in which all migrants come to the UK to work, study, visit or join their family. It will also revolutionise the operation of the UK border, tighten security and deliver a better customer experience for those coming to the UK.

From 1 January 2021, EU and non-EU citizens will be treated equally . We will reduce 1 overall levels of migration and give top priority to those with the highest skills and the greatest talents: scientists, engineers, academics and other highly-skilled workers. Importantly we remain committed to protecting individuals from exploitation by criminal traffickers and unscrupulous employers.

We will replace free movement with the UK’s points-based system to cater for the most highly skilled workers, skilled workers, students and a range of other specialist work routes including routes for global leaders and innovators.

We will not introduce a general low-skilled or temporary work route. We need to shift the focus of our economy away from a reliance on cheap labour from Europe and instead concentrate on investment in technology and automation. Employers will need to adjust.

However, the Settlement Scheme for EU citizens, which opened in March 2019, has already received 3.2 million applications from EU citizens who will be able to stay and work in the UK. This will provide employers with flexibility to meet labour market demands.

We recognise that these proposals represent significant change for employers in the UK and we will deliver a comprehensive programme of communication and engagement in the coming months. We will keep labour market data under careful scrutiny to monitor any pressures in key sectors.

Initiatives are also being brought forward for scientists, graduates, NHS workers and those in the agricultural sector, which will provide businesses with additional flexibility in the shorter term.

For the first time in decades the UK will have full control over who comes to this country and how our immigration system operates. This policy statement sets out how we will grasp this unique opportunity by introducing a new points-based system.

Alongside this policy statement we will shortly be publishing our response to the Law Commission Report on Simplification of the Immigration Rules which will set out how we propose to provide the foundations for a streamlined and simplified system.

Click here to read the full statement.

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