TORY Home Secretary Priti Patel launched the UK’s first ‘points-based immigration system’ yesterday.
The new system will come into force on New Year’s Day, immediately ending freedom of movement with the EU.
Under the government’s plan, those wishing to live and work in the UK must gain 70 points. The new system cuts the number of ‘low-skilled’ workers entering Britain.
Points would be awarded for meeting criteria such as having a job offer, holding a PhD relevant to the job, speaking English or earning more than £22,000 a year.
Those with job offers in ‘shortage occupations’ such as nursing and civil engineering will be able to ‘earn extra points’.
Labour, however, has not opposed it, only saying it would scrutinise the proposals ‘very carefully,’ saying the government had ‘rushed through immigration legislation with very little detail in the middle of a global pandemic.’
Patel said in a statement to the House of Commons: ‘At a time where an increased number of people across the UK are looking for work, the new points-based system will encourage employers to invest in the domestic UK workforce, rather than simply relying on labour from abroad.’
She announced that a ‘health and care visa’ will provide a route for key health professionals to work in the UK, while a ‘graduate route’ will allow international students to stay in the UK for at least two years after completing their studies.
Rehana Azam, GMB National Secretary, said: ‘The government’s new immigration rules are descending into an embarrassing shambles and makes no consideration or acknowledgement of the vital job care workers have been doing these past few months.
‘The proposed “Health and Care Visa” apparently fails to include care workers and NHS contractors within its scope – and imposes salary thresholds that would prevent most underpaid care workers and many NHS porters, cleaners, and other support staff from qualifying for in any event.
‘Who will keep our hospitals running and our care homes going when ministers pull up the drawbridge?
‘At a time when care is facing its greatest ever crisis, and with care homes reliant on hundreds of thousands of workers from outside Europe and facing staffing shortfalls, ministers are cutting off their noses to spite their faces.
‘It’s those who rely on care and their families who now face being punished by this ministerial incompetence.
‘Demand on health and social care is increasing every day and the pandemic has shown just how vital these workers are, yet the government seems intent on keeping branding them as low skilled, and exacerbating the crisis by creating new barriers.
‘The government is piling stress and anxiety onto the high-skilled, underpaid workers who do an outstanding job keeping our country going, and who we simply could not do without.’
A Liberty spokesperson said: ‘The government’s plans are set to expand the racist hostile environment. This system embeds border controls in our public services and prioritises immigration enforcement over people’s basic rights.
‘It leaves people on work or study visas dependent on their employer or educational institution – which puts them at risk of exploitation and abuse. Rather than expanding the overly complex, chaotic and cruel immigration system, the government should be taking this opportunity to end the hostile environment and design a system based on dignity and respect.’