[UK] No Visas For Low-Skilled Workers Post-Brexit

19 FEB 2020

Under post-Brexit immigration plans unveiled by the government, low-skilled workers would not qualify for visas, BBC News reports.

The government urges employers to "move away" from relying on "cheap labour" from Europe and focus on investing in developing automation technology and retaining staff.

The Home Office said EU and non-EU citizens coming to the UK would be treated equally following the end of UK-EU free movement on December 31.

Labour commented that a "hostile environment" would make it hard to attract workers.

Home Secretary Priti Patel - speaking to BBC Breakfast - said the government wanted to "encourage people with the right talent" and "reduce the levels of people coming to the UK with low skills".

Ms Patel added that businesses could additionally recruit from the eight million "economically inactive" potential workers in the UK.

The SNP responded calling this a "ridiculous or dangerous idea" because a number of this group were suffering "ill health or injury".

Who falls under the 'skilled' definition

Under the plan, the definition of skilled workers would expand to include those educated to A-level/Scottish Highers-equivalent standard and not graduate level, as the definition currently stands. (Link via original reporting)

Waiting staff and certain categories of farmworker would be removed from the new skilled category. New additions would include childminding, carpentry and plastering.

How it would work

The government proposes to have a "points-based" immigration system, as the Conservative election manifesto promised.

To be able to work in the UK under such a system overseas citizens would need to reach 70 points. The ability to speak English and the offer of a skilled job with an "approved sponsor" would earn 50 points.

Additional points would be awarded for qualifications, the salary on offer and taking work in a sector with shortages.

Currently, workers from European Economic Area countries have the automatic right to live and work in the UK irrespective of their salary or skill level.

The government says this right will come to an end on December 31, when the 11-month post-Brexit transition period

is due to finish. (Link via original reporting)

Pay levels

The salary threshold for skilled workers wanting to come to the UK would be reduced from £30,000 to £25,600.

However, for people in "specific shortage occupations" - which currently include civil engineering, psychology, nursing and classical ballet dancing - or for people with PhDs relevant to a specific job the government says the threshold would be as low as £20,480.

The overall cap on the number of skilled workers who could come into the UK would cease.