Updated: Aug 8, 2019
A week into his new Premiership, our new PM has already voiced his plans for a post-Brexit immigration system.
Similar to his previous predecessors, he believes an Australian style immigration system is the best way forward and has pledged to push this through for a post-Brexit Britain. His views shared by his newly anointed Home Secretary, Ms Priti Patel.
It is not the first that we have heard that the Australian style system is something the British should aspire to. Way back in 2005 when the then Home Secretary, Mr Charles Clarke announced a transparent Points-Based-System (#PBS), the Australian immigration system was said to be the blueprint.
Now in 2019, we want to revisit an Australian style system as a brand new idea?
The #PBS has been a majority part of our immigration system since February 2008 and have received gradual changes throughout the 11 years of its existence. However, the system is slowly moving away from the points-based approach to a skills-based approach. This is evident from the recent removal of Tier 1 Entrepreneur and Graduate Entrepreneur, and the introduction of Appendix W (or Innovator and Startup Visas) was to do just that.
Bringing a purely points-based approach will again reverse what former PMs and Home Secretaries tried to do. Concentrate on skills and ability, not the blind award of points. Something, which businesses, practitioners and migrants all agree with.
Going back to a British/Australian points-based system will mean we are stepping backwards. It may mean we all travel back to the HSMP (Highly Skilled Migrant Program) day, which was later replaced by the cancelled Tier 1 (General) route. Both of these routes were the starting position for a points-based system which proved to be questionable routes in meeting the Government's objectives.
The problem identified with Tier 1 (General) and HSMP was that - points allocation to identify a skilled workforce was one thing, the reality may be different. The Then Home Secretary, Mrs May, indicated that at least 30% of Tier 1 General visa holders work in low-skilled occupations and some don't have a job at all.
HSMP and Tier 1 General used very similar considerations - points awarded for age, experience, English language, qualification, and salary.
Each applicant will have to meet a certain number of points to gain entry to the UK. A very similar system to the Australian points-based system (at least in part).
The issue then becomes - who will monitor the activities of the skilled workers? Will it be an enhanced responsibility for the employers similar to Tier 2 (General) or will it be down to the workers themselves?
More importantly, will the Government want to place all work routes under the revised Australian styled points-based system? And if so, are we back to a number cap of potential workers where only the highest earners get to enter the UK?
These questions cannot yet be answered as there is no real guidance from the PM statement. However, we do know that if there are plans for a new points-based system, the Migration Advisory Committee (#MAC) will be commissioned for their advice. We hope, at that stage, we will all receive some clarity to the Government's plan.
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