Australian Points Immigration System: Will It Work In UK?

20 April 2016, 08:41 | Updated: 28 October 2019, 15:53

Passports airport border force

Campaigners who want Britian to leave the European Union have outlined plans to introduce an Australian-style points-based immigration system.

LBC spoke to Australian immigration experts to find out exactly what it is and whether it could be implemented into the UK.

What is the Australian Points System Of Immigration?

Anyone wanting to move to Australia gets judged on a certain number of criteria.

Alexander Downer, the Australian High Commissioner to the UK and a former Australian Foreign Minister, explains: "We take about 70% of our migrants as skilled migrants. They accumulate points based on their age, occupation - if it's in areas we have shortages, as well as their health, character and security.

"They also have to speak the English language, otherwise they won't be able to integrate into our society properly.

"If you get enough points, you're able to come into Australia." 

Is the immigration system popular?

Mr Downer claims that the system in Australia is working: "The general public are well disposed to our immigration programme because it is predictable and organised and it's regular.

"People aren't selected on the basis of their gender or their race. But they do have to meet security checks, as well as health and character checks. It's a tough system.

"What the public don't like is irregular migration, where people pay a people smuggler to get them into the country. That simply doesn't work in Australia."

Could the Australia Points-Based System work in the UK?

The ex-Australian Foreign Minister believes the system can work anywhere, but there are obstacles the UK will need to get past: "It would have to be implemented across the whole of Europe, not just the UK. You have to have secure external borders.

"In Australia's case, we are an island and are not part of an Asian union, so we completely control our own borders and we police them very toughly with aircraft and ships protecting our borders."

But actually, the UK does have a points-based immigration system already.

Chris Magrath, the head of the Immigration and Employment Law at Magrath LLP, says the system is used for non-EU immigration - and he says it's not working well.

He told LBC: "We have a points-based system currently. In certain respects, it is similar to the Australian system, based upon age, attributes, skills, shortages and needs of the Labour force in this country.

"Our points-based system launched in 2008 and was intended to be simple, straight-forward and easy to apply. But it has turned into a morass of bureaucratic regulation and vast cost.

"We operate one of the most expensive immigration systems in the world."