Home Secretary Priti Patel updates MPs on new points-based immigration system

24 February 2020

Home Secretary, Priti Patel, made a statement to the House of Commons on the introduction of the Government's proposed new points-based immigration system.

On Tuesday 18 February 2020, the Government set out its proposed post-Brexit immigration system. The system would operate on points, with 70 points needed for overseas citizens to be able to work in the UK.

Under the new system, it would be essential for overseas citizens to have an offer of job at an appropriate skill level by approved sponsor and speak English at required level. These necessary criteria would award 50 points, with potential workers able to gain the extra points needed by earning over £25,600, by having a PhD in a STEM subject or by having an offer of a job in which the UK has a shortage.

Priti Patel MP: "no immigration route for lower-skilled workers"

Priti Patel MP emphasised that the Government was committed to ending free movement. She told the House that the system would commence on 1 January 2021, and would be a UK-wide system for "workers and students".

The Minister told MPs that the Government had incorporated the Migration Advisory Committee's recommendations to drop the minimum salary threshold to £25,600 and to reduce the required skill level to "the equivalent of A-level qualifications".

Ms Patel detailed plans for a "fast-track" NHS work visa and proposals to "quadruple" the size of the horticultural workers pilot scheme. She also said that student numbers would remain "uncapped" and that graduates of UK universities would be able to reside for two-years after graduation.

The Minister said:

"In line with ending free movement, there will be no immigration route for lower-skilled workers."

Bell Ribeiro-Addy: "dog-whistle politics"

Responding on behalf of the Opposition, Bell Ribeiro Addy, Shadow Immigration Minister rejected the "low-skilled worker" distinction, stating that there is "no such thing as low-skilled work, only low-paid work".

Ms Ribeiro Addy emphasised that businesses have reported that they will "struggle to fill vacancies" left by EU workers and that the system risks further debilitating sectors such as social care (not covered by the NHS visa).

She called the requirement to speak English "dog-whistle politics", and asked if the Government intended to split families where only one partner speaks English. She also condemned plans to block access overseas citizens' access to benefits until they are given indefinite leave to remain.

The Member told the House:

"Ministers run the risk of doing even greater damage to our public services than they have already done."

Image: Rick Findler/PA Archive/PA Images

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