Leave Means Leave Immigration policy

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1 Leave Means Leave Immigration policy Executive Summary The 23rd June 2016 marked a turning point in the future of the UK s immigration policy. For decades, consecutive governments were unable to control our borders and reduce overall levels of net migration. They had been hampered in doing so because a large part of UK policy had been effectively outsourced to the European Union through rules on free movement of people. The UK Government will, for the first time in over 40 years, have full domestic control over all of the UK s immigration policy, procedures and rules. Our proposal is for a bespoke British work permit system, which is tailor-made for Britain in the 21st century. It will be a system that reflects the mood of the British public and reduces net migration to sustainable and manageable levels. In summary, the key proposals are: UK policy on immigration needs a new direction based on a philosophy of being fair, flexible and forward thinking; The UK should have a bespoke British work permit system, its eventual aim being to reduce net migration to around the levels those last seen in the mid-1990s. The public understands that highly skilled migration is beneficial to Britain. Therefore, there should be no cap on the most highly skilled and entrepreneurial workers who wish to come to this country. We also believe that the system should not discriminate against those with the skills and talent that we need based on their country of origin. There should be no further admission of EU workers for lower skilled employment, subject to specified exemptions as advised by the Migration Advisory Committee, bringing the EU into line with present policy on non-eu migration for work. Not only is migration for lower skilled work less of an economic benefit to Britain than other types of migration, but it can also be problematic for source countries. Many migrants from Eastern Europe arrive in Britain to take jobs for which they are over-qualified, depriving their home countries of the skills and talent needed to develop their own economies and provide good public services such as healthcare. 1

2 In future we should place much greater emphasis on the training and upskilling of those currently in unemployment, including the over 800, year old British citizens who are currently unemployed or inactive (as of December 2016). Technical and vocational education should be expanded across the country to ensure that there are pathways for young people into semi-skilled and trade occupations. We recognise that there will be a need for seasonal agricultural workers (SAWs) after Brexit to give the agricultural and horticultural sectors time to adapt. We propose a revival of the SAWs scheme to allow migration on shortterm 6 month visas to work in the industry. The number will be capped at 25,000 a year, tapered down over time to reflect the decreased need for workers as businesses invest in new and efficient technological systems. Genuine international students should continue to be welcome in the UK. They are an asset to our economy and their time studying in UK universities fosters valuable cultural ties. They should continue to be counted in net migration statistics, as are all other migrants who come to the UK for more than a year. In respect of the NHS, doctors and nurses will continue to be able to come to the UK under the work permit scheme, as both qualify as highly skilled workers. However, limits on training places in medicine and nursing should be lifted to ensure that we can train an adequate number of doctors and nurses to meet the needs of the population. Border force technology and systems we use to monitor those entering the UK should be upgraded to ensure that we keep pace with technological developments and create a border fit for the 21 st century. Technology such as Automatic Number Plate Recognition, which has transformed the way the London Congestion Charge system operates, will be able to assist in creating frictionless border and customs regimes between the UK and other EU member states, enabling vehicles and their goods to swiftly and easily enter the UK. Home Office systems should be fully integrated with other departments to ensure that data is available on stocks and flows in a timely fashion. For example, data on entry and exit should be linked up with the visa system as well as data on National Insurance Numbers. Only those who are granted permanent residence should be eligible for social benefits, housing benefits and social housing, in keeping with the principle of fairness that we should all have to pay in to the system. 2

3 EU nationals who arrive before Brexit should be allowed to apply for permanent residence after five years in the UK. They would then be granted the same rights as those from outside the EU who have settled in Britain. All migrants will continue to be able to apply for citizenship, giving them the same rights as British citizens. Why do we need a new immigration policy? There is no doubt that profound concern about the level of net migration to the UK and its impact on the population, housing and public services was a key driver of the vote to leave. If the result of the referendum is to be honoured in spirit and letter, free movement of people from the EU to the UK must come to an end. It follows that the UK must devise a new immigration system to govern the movement of people from the EU to the UK once we leave the Union. What principles should guide immigration policy? Any new immigration system must strike the right balance between a range of considerations, including the views of the public, the needs of business and the economy, the impact on the population and public services, and international obligations that emanate from Britain s membership of the UN and signature of a number of international Conventions. We believe that the immigration system outlined below strikes the right balance. It is designed to address public concern about the present level of immigration by achieving a drastic reduction from the present level of 250,000 annual net migration. This will slow the rate of population growth in the UK, which is currently growing at the fastest rate for 70 years. The policy also recognises that businesses will continue to need to attract the brightest and the best talent from around the world and that those who possess key skills cannot always be found in the domestic labour market. It also respects Britain s international obligations while remaining true to British values of fairness. That British sense of fairness also underpins our commitment to protecting the residency and working rights of those who arrived before our departure from the EU, including those who had not yet qualified for permanent residency. This is the right thing to do. The following is an outline of the main principles of an immigration policy that would be right for Britain in our new post-brexit world. 3

4 Visitors and Tourists There were around 35 million arrivals from the EU last year, the vast majority of which would have been for tourism and short trips to visit friends and family. Equally, millions of British people travel to the rest of the EU on holidays and short breaks, 8 million last year, making travel and tourism important sectors for both Britain and Europe. Ordinary people across the continent value the ease with which they can travel around and we see no reason why Brexit should change that. We therefore believe that there should be visa free travel for visitors and tourists between the UK and the EU after Brexit. We are indeed leaving the EU, but we are not leaving Europe. Students Thousands of EU students arrive each year to study at our world class Universities and British students are currently studying in all parts of the EU. Studying abroad can be an enriching experience, with opportunities to learn another language and culture. Overseas students are also good for Universities and the surrounding towns and cities. Again, there is no need to erect barriers where they are not needed. We therefore believe that students should continue to be able to come to Britain for study without a visa and vice versa. Students from the EU wishing to work after their studies will however have to qualify under the immigration system for work, described below. Work The vast majority, around 75 per cent, of those who have come to the UK from the EU in recent years have come for work. Many have employment organised before their arrival but some also come in search of work. As most migrants come for work, it is essential that this element is limited if overall net migration is to be brought under control. In order to maximise the benefits of migration, Leave Means Leave are clear that Britain should remain open to the most highly skilled workers from the EU. However, in future, employment for lower skilled work will not qualify an individual for a work permit, except in circumstances whereby the independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has identified a skills shortage in a particular sector. 4

5 Highly Skilled Work with a Job Offer We believe that EU workers should be brought under the existing work permit system. The system works and is familiar to those companies which already use it. This will also end the unequal treatment of highly skilled workers from outside the EU. Under our proposals, only those who meet the following criteria would be able to work in Britain: An offer of a graduate level job from a sponsor on the Home Office Register of Licensed Sponsors A job paying a minimum of 30,000 or the appropriate rate for the role, whichever is higher A minimum level of English language competence An appropriate level of savings Evidence of a health insurance policy spanning the duration of the visa before admission to the UK. This would replace the current immigration health surcharge. Intra Company Transfers We believe that it is essential that businesses which have bases in both the UK and the rest of the EU should continue to be able to transfer key staff within their business in a rapid and seamless manner. To that end, businesses should be able to transfer staff using a system of Intra Company Transfer visas. Highly Skilled Work without a Job Offer Leave Means Leave believe that the Tier 1 system for non-eu entrepreneurs, graduate entrepreneurs, investors and those with exceptional talent should be open to EU nationals. In addition, the present caps on these routes should be lifted. 5

6 Lower Skilled Work Jobs below graduate level (NQF Level 6) would no longer qualify for a Tier 2 work permit, which means that there would be a moratorium on migration to take lower skilled work. There would be exceptions, such as where the Migration Advisory Committee identified a sector as experiencing a skills shortage. If necessary, the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme could be reintroduced and opened to EU nationals. Visas would be capped annually at 25,000, to be reduced over time. This is higher than the number available in the final year of operation of the now closed SAWs scheme when 21,000 were available. Visas will be limited to 6 months There would be no access to public funds. 25 th November

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