United Kingdom announces new points-based immigration system

FILE- Employees work on the production line of the Mc Laren auto factory in Woking England on Feb. 9 2018. Britain moved to cut overall immigration by locking migrants out of sectors like catering construction senior care and hospitality. (Andrew Test

The Home Secretary Priti Patel has introduced a new points-based system on immigration and said the new system will bring policy back to the control of the government for the "first time in decades".

'We have got a number of routes through the points-based immigration scheme that will enable people to come here with the right kind of skills that can support our country and our economy, ' she said.

The British government unveiled on Wednesday a new immigration program, effective January 1, 2021, that will make it much harder for unskilled workers and non-English speakers to obtain a visa to enter the country.

It is urging employers to "move away" from relying on "cheap labour" from Europe and invest in retaining staff and developing automation technology.

The UK Home Office said it would introduce a new post-Brexit system based on points, with European Union and non-EU nationals treated equally.

Labour said the "hostile environment" will make it hard to attract workers. "We will attract the brightest and the best from around the globe, boosting the economy and our communities, and unleash this country's full potential", said Priti Patel, Britain's home secretary.

These requirements are a job offer by an approved sponsor (worth 20 points), a job at an appropriate skill level (worth 20 points), and the ability to speak English at the required level (worth 10 points).

Richard Sheehan, chief executive of Shropshire Chamber of Commerce, said: "Clearly something of this nature will have greater impacts on some sectors more than others like tourism, leisure and hospitality, health and agriculture". Existing youth mobility programmes will also allow 20,000 young workers to come to the UK.

However, critics argue that a highly developed economy needs a far deeper supply of workers.

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But Scotland Office minister Douglas Ross insisted the new system would "work for Scotland and the whole of the UK". On Wednesday, the Government unveiled its points-based immigration system, which is similar to the one used in Australia.

But he said the system would also pose "real challenges" for businesses, "against a backdrop of a highly competitive labour market and a declining working age population".

The UK Government seems quite adamant that they will not introduce any low skilled or temporary work routes, and that UK employers will have to adapt.

Asked whether individuals who have an offer from an academic institution, but can not speak English, would still be able to come to the UK, Patel said: "We're being very clear about this - this is a system that puts the British government in control of its immigration policy for the first time in decades". According to a list by the Migration Advisory Committee there is a shortage of civil engineers, medical practitioners, nurses, psychologists, and classical ballet dancers.

The government's proposed immigration system represents a balancing act - broadening the base of skilled labour while restricting the flow of those seeking lower-skilled jobs. Crucially it looks like the NHS and schools will be able to recruit skilled workers without worrying about salary thresholds (the national pay scales will apply). However, sectors such as construction, hospitality, manufacturing and social care that rely heavily on low skilled workers that historically have been sourced from the European Union, will now face major labour challenges.

Students seeking to study in the United Kingdom will need to demonstrate that they have an offer from an approved educational institution, that they can support themselves financially and that they speak English, the government explained.

Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said the application process would have to be radically simplified if smaller businesses were to navigate the system.

Under the plan, immigration would be slashed from its current level of more than 200,000 people a year, although the government has not set a new target.

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