The new white paper issued today by the Home Office creates both significant restrictions to some types of immigration to the UK while significantly liberalising others.
The most headline-grabbing announcement relates to the introduction of a skills selective approach for EU migrants – bringing them in line with non-EU workers to the UK. However, the cap on skilled migration from outside the EU is lifted, meaning that employment of both EU and non-EU highly-skilled and medium workers may be straightforward.
This is offset by a one-year temporary visa that is not limited to specific employers and a proposed expansion of the Youth Mobility Scheme.
Madeleine Sumption, Director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford said: “Today’s White Paper signals one of the most fundamental redesigns of immigration policy since significant restrictions on the free movement of Commonwealth migrants were introduced nearly half a century ago.
“Probably the most significant proposal is the plan to rely heavily on short-term migration. Under the current system, EU migrants at all skill levels have been able to settle permanently in the UK and become citizens if they want to. The proposed policies would put an end to that, with employers relying on a rotating pool of newly arriving workers to fill low-paid positions.
“This is also the first time since 2010 that the Government has proposed significantly liberalising, rather than just restricting, some migration flows – specifically skilled migration from outside the EU.
“It’s a big change from current policy, although the ultimate destination is actually not particularly radical: nearly every high-income country in the world has a skills selective policy that is more open to high-skilled than low-skilled workers.”