By Prarthana Mitra
British Prime Minister Thersa May revealed major changes to the existing immigration system on Tuesday, saying that she aimed at a level playing field for nationals from all countries post-Brexit.
The new policy unveiled ahead of tabling the new Immigration Bill at the Parliament next year, hopes to end “freedom of movement once and for all” for European Union (EU) citizens. “For the first time in decades, it will be this country that controls and chooses who we want to come here,” May said in a statement later that day.
Restrictive, stringent, tougher
The policy which will be enacted after Britain’s transition from the EU is complete in 2021, aims to curb low-skilled immigration, and thus fulfil the ruling Conservative Party’s electoral promise to make immigration more sustainable.
According to experts, Indians may benefit from the new policy which relaxes a lot of rules for highly-skilled workers, even mandating British companies to sponsor families of such high-skilled professionals, although that could be counterproductive in the long run. The current cap on skilled workers is set at 20,700 per year for migrants from non-EU countries like India, which the committee recommended should be done away with. However, the government statement noted, “Successful applicants for high-skilled work would be able to bring their immediate family but only if sponsored by their future employers.”
Immigration plans are in “national interest”
May declared on Tuesday, “It will be a skills-based system where it is workers’ skills that matter, not where they come from. It will be a system that looks across the globe and attracts the people with the skills we need,” she said.
This prioritisation of visa applications from high-skilled workers is based on the government-commissioned report from the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) last month. The report had also advocated against the preferential access to EU workers after Brexit, which ends EU immigrants’ priority status.
The new policy also proposes to introduce national security checks to make passport control smoother at the borders, a point that critics say is reminiscent of the authorisation model currently followed in the US. This new “swift system of e-gate visa checks” will be applicable to travellers from “low-risk countries” on short-stay tourist or business trips.
Migration continues to be a highly contentious issue as border control and movement of people played a major role in the campaign for leaving the EU in the first place.
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius.
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