Points-based immigration system in UK from Jan1
Nation special report
LONDON: New immigration rules will be enforced in Britain from January 1 next year and the government has assured that the points-based post-Brexit system would be
“simple and flexible”.
From Tuesday all foreign nationals, including from the European Union, who want to work in the UK from 1 January will have to apply online for a visa. Those seeking a skilled worker visa will need a job offer, to be proficient in English and earn at least £25,600.
Free movement from and to the EU will come to an end on 31 December. The UK left the EU on 31 January but has been largely following its rules during the subsequent 11-month transition period, as the two sides try to reach agreement over a trade deal.
The government has announced it is setting up a new Border Operations Centre, which it says will ensure round-the-clock surveillance of goods and passengers coming in and out of British ports for the first time.
It will use £20m software produced by the US tech firm Palantir, which gathers information from different government computers, in the hope of minimising the amount of “short-term” disruption at the border in the days and weeks after 1 January.
According to a BBC report, Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said the new system would enable the authorities to identify and get on top of bottlenecks “quickly and decisively”.
Business groups have said delays at the border are inevitable given the looming changes to customs procedures while Labour said “glaring questions” remained unanswered about what businesses needed to do.
“The government is putting the burden on businesses to prepare for the end of the transition period when it has not explained what it is those businesses are getting ready for,” said shadow minister Rachel Reeves.
“The government is re-badging a basic element of preparation but still can’t tell us how many customs agents are recruited or trained or whether crucial IT is ready.”
Speaking to the BBC, Mr Gove said: “A lot of what businesses need to do is the same whether or not we get a free trade agreement or not. “There’s no harm in doing these things because they’ll be necessary come what may.”
Changing in immigration
The UK’s new immigration system will determine who can work in the country from 1 January. Online applications for visas via a range of new “routes” will open on Tuesday. Applications for skilled worker visas will be judged on the basis of a points system, which is modelled on the system in place in Australia for many years.
Points will be awarded for a job offer at the appropriate skill level in an eligible occupation, knowledge of English and whether applicants meet a salary threshold – which will typically be at least £25,600.
The cost of applying will be between £610 to £1,408 and people will have to show they have enough money to support themselves as well as having proof of identity. Applicants will have to wait about three weeks to find out whether they have been successful.
People living in UK
EU citizens already living in the UK by 31 December and their families do not have to go through the new system but instead can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme, and have until 30 June 2021 to do so. If they are successful, they will be able to remain in the UK and claim the same benefits as UK citizens if they become unemployed.
Irish citizens do not need to apply to the scheme and will not require permission to come to the UK, as the UK and Ireland are both part of a Common Travel Area.
Different rules apply to workers from outside the EU, and EU migrants arriving after the end of the transition period. Those who lose their job will have to return to their home country, unless they have indefinite leave to remain. The Home Office rules about which workers can remain in the UK after losing a job are complex but can be resolved.
Home Secretary Priti Patel has said the system would be “simple, effective and flexible” and enable employers to fill skills gaps while also placing a greater onus on firms to train and invest in British workers. Ms Patel and other critics of free movement have long argued it has left British firms overly reliant on low-skilled workers from the continent and put applicants from the rest of the rest of the world at a disadvantage.
But unions have warned of a looming crisis over the recruitment of social care staff under the new rules and says action is also needed to support those foreign-born NHS workers whose visas are expiring.
Applications also opened on Tuesday for Global Talent, Innovator and Start-Up visas designed to attract “those who have an exceptional talent or show exceptional promise in the fields of engineering, science, tech or culture”.
New rules for international students came into force in October.
The rights of the more than three million EU citizens already working in the UK are protected under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement signed by the UK and EU earlier this year. As of 30 September, 2.1 million people had been granted settled status and 1.6 million pre-settled status – ensuring they can remain in the UK.