London: Home Secretary Priti Patel announced the launch of the UK's new points-based visa system, aimed at attracting the "brightest and the best" from the world, including from India, and cutting down numbers of cheap, low-skilled workers coming to the country. The new system will come into force from January 1, 2021 at the end of the transition period after the UK's exit from the European Union (EU) last month, which will formally end free movement of people within the economic bloc for the UK as a non-member. The new post-Brexit system, which will apply equally to the EU and non-EU countries like India, is based on assigning points for specific skills, qualifications, salaries and professions, with visas only awarded to those who gain enough points.
“We will attract the brightest and the best from around the globe, boosting the economy and our communities, and unleash this country's full potential,” said Patel, the senior-most Indian-origin Cabinet minister, in charge of the UK's visa and immigration system.
The UK Home Office said the new system is a direct response to the 2016 referendum in favour of Brexit, which was seen as a vote to end the country's reliance on cheap migrant labour and reduce overall levels of migration with tighter security.
"The new single global system will treat the EU and non-EU citizens equally. It will give top priority to those with the highest skills and the greatest talents, including scientists, engineers and academics,” the Home Office said.
The new points-based system will also expand the skills threshold for skilled workers. Those looking to live and work in the UK will need to be qualified up to A-level or equivalent, rather than degree-level under the current system. “It is estimated 70 per cent of the existing EU workforce would not meet requirements of the skilled worker route, which will help to bring overall numbers down in future,” the Home Office said.