The home secretary is to unveil further detail on the future of immigration in the UK on Monday in an attempt to prepare businesses and organisations for the biggest overhaul of the system in decades.
The Home Office has previously revealed the core principles behind the forthcoming points-based system, which is meant to be introduced when the transition period from leaving the European Union ends on 1 January. Under the system, UK borders will be closed to so-called non-skilled workers and applicants will be have to show a greater understanding of English.
Applicants must also have a job offer with a minimum salary of £25,600 a year, with a few exceptions. But the most significant change is the end of freedom of movement for EU nationals, who will be treated equally to arrivals from outside the bloc.
Industry leaders have previously expressed anxiety over the proposed shake-up and the impact it may have on the job market while universities and colleges are concerned about a potential decline in international students.
The home secretary, Priti Patel, will seek to assuage concerns on Monday when she reveals further details and publishes a 130-page document, which will flesh out the details on key immigration routes into the UK, including for skilled workers and students.
Patel said: “The British people voted to take back control of our borders and introduce a new points-based immigration system. Now we have left the EU, we are free to unleash this country’s full potential and implement the changes we need to restore trust in the immigration system and deliver a new fairer, firmer, skills-led system from 1 January 2021.”
The new immigration system is to be implemented in phases to minimise the shock to businesses, particularly those that have long-relied on cheap labour from the EU.
The government has already revealed details of immigration routes designed to address concerns about the job market including a new health and care visa for key health professionals, which will make it easier and cheaper for them to work in the UK.
A new graduate route opening in summer 2021 will allow international students to stay in the UK once they have successfully completed their studies. Students who have completed undergraduate and master’s degrees will be able to stay for two years and those who have completed a PhD can stay for three years.
The “global talent” scheme” allows scientists and researchers to come to the UK without a job offer. An applicant’s job must be at the minimum skill level of A-level or equivalent, rather than degree level under the current system.
EU citizens resident in the UK by 31 December 2020 will still be able to apply to settle in the UK through the EU settlement scheme until 30 June 2021.
Nick Thomas-Symonds, the shadow home secretary, said: “We will scrutinise the proposals on visas very carefully. The government has rushed through immigration legislation with very little detail in the middle of a global pandemic.
“There are real concerns that this will cause major problems for our NHS and our care sector, at a time when we are still waiting for the government to make good on their promise to scrap the unfair immigration health surcharge for workers who were being charged to access the very services they were keeping going to help others during the toughest of times.”