Post-Brexit immigration plans to replace free movement with points system clear first Commons hurdle

18 May 2020, 19:53 | Updated: 18 May 2020, 23:42

Post-Brexit immigration plans to replace freedom of movement with the EU have passed their first major hurdle in parliament.

The points-based system was approved by 351 votes to 252 - thanks to Boris Johnson's large Conservative majority in the Commons.

More details are expected to be fleshed out later in the year to explain the future system for all those who move to the UK after the transition period ends at the end of December 2020.

The plans will now be scrutinised further by MPs before the House of Lords debates and votes on them, too.

Officials said the system will make it easier and quicker for medical professionals around the world to work in the health service through a new fast-track NHS visa.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said it was a "firmer, fairer and simpler" system.

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But shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said the legislation was aimed at making overseas workers feel unwelcome in the UK and poses a threat to the country's interests.

"It is rank hypocrisy towards our NHS and care workers, over 180,000 in England and Wales alone, to stand and clap for them on a Thursday night, and then tell them that they are not welcome in the UK on a Monday," he said.

"The home secretary has been invisible throughout this crisis.

"And now her first major intervention is a bill that will make workers in the NHS and the care sector feel unwelcome in this country, as well as labelling retail workers, carers, local government workers, refuse collectors, and many more as 'low skilled' - the very same workers who have been keeping this country running throughout the crisis."

In February, the government announced potential migrants to the UK will have to score 70 points on the new system in order to qualify for a visa.

Three conditions must be met, which total 50 points.

These are:

  1. A job offer from an approved sponsor, such as an employer cleared by the Home Office. This will earn 20 points.
  2. Have a job offer that is at a "required skill level". This will earn 20 points.
  3. The ability to speak English to a certain level. This will earn 10 points.

From January 2021, the minimum salary required for migrants coming to work in the UK will be reduced from £30,000 to £25,600.

If migrants earn a salary above £25,600, they will earn the 20 extra points needed to get to the required 70-point level.

If migrants earn less than this - but no less than £20,480 - they may still be able to come to the UK by "trading" points earned on specific characteristics against their lower salary level.