The leak of an 82 page discussion document on how the UK could deal with EU migration post-Brexit has caused considerable comment from all quarters. The document outlines some of the potential courses of action for dealing with overseas unskilled or semi-skilled workers once the UK has separated from Europe.
In keeping with many countries in the advanced world, it appears from the leaked documents, that Britain will seek to attract highly skilled migrants and limit the number of unskilled migrants that may impact on the home grown unskilled workforce.
New Zealand, for example, requires a job offer before granting a work visa, the type and length of the visa is dependent on the type of work. Canada is suffering an unskilled worker shortage and provides unskilled people, who have a job offer, with a temporary visa providing they fulfil the educational requirement.
The discussion document suggests that in future there will be a difference between skilled and unskilled workers treatment by limiting the initial length of time for residence, once accepted, to two years for unskilled and three to five years for skilled workers. It also seeks to limit the family members who can join the migrant worker to immediate family only, so parents, grandparents etc. will be excluded. All workers who wish to bring their immediate family to the UK must be able to support them if the family member is not able to work, therefore the current earning thresholds will still apply to workers wishing to bring their immediate family to this country.
As has been expressed many times over the past months that Britain seeks to avoid an abrupt cliff edge exit and regardless of the eventual decision regarding immigration there will be a transition period of two years before any new measures are implemented.
It will be a challenging balancing act for the government and the discussion document has already been the subject of heated exchanges between ministers. The needs of business must be listened to, however at the same time it has to be recognised that the country does not have a limitless capacity to absorb foreign nationals, for example there are 916,000 Polish nationals living in the UK, more than the total number of British nationals living in the EU.
The “Britain first” feeling that the document delivers may reflect the fact that the government is forced to consider the undeniable fact that UK citizens voted for Brexit and that the reason was, in part perhaps, because unskilled British workers in certain sectors of society felt that their opportunities were limited within their own country.
However, it must be remembered that the leaked document is a draft and the whole question of how immigration will be handled post-Brexit seems to be a long way from a settled policy sanctioned by the government.
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