Author: Graeme Burton
The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has called for post-Brexit UK to adopt a visa-free and permit-free immigration system for skilled workers.
The call was made in the Committee’s latest report, ‘An immigration system that works for science and innovation’, released today.
The report is intended to influence the debate about the kind of immigration system the UK should adopt after it leaves the European Union, focusing on the high-tech sector, as well as skilled workers more broadly.
The Committee has accused the government of “inaction” on the issue, and added that the situation has become urgent, with the UK expected to leave the European Union at the end of March next year.
“Collaboration is crucial to the UK maintaining its position as a science superpower, and it is essential that the UK has an immigration system that facilitates the mobility of the science and innovation community,” said Norman Lamb, chair of the Science and Technology Committee and Liberal Democrat MP for North Norfolk.
He continued: “Delay in confirming how the system will work following Brexit is deeply damaging. Industry and research communities urgently need certainty.
“If the UK wishes to remain open and attractive to the brightest and best global talent following Brexit, it requires an immigration system that allows researchers, technicians, students and innovative entrepreneurs to arrive and work in the UK without facing a burdensome and daunting process.
“Nobody wants to see damage to our economy as a result of restricting the ability of skilled workers to come to this country. This is essential for our future prosperity.”
The report makes a series of recommendations for the UK’s post-Brexit immigration system, including:
- Establishing the right to visa-free and permit-free work in the UK for up to 180 days for skilled workers;
- Creating a five-year skilled work permit for anyone with the offer of employment, at a minimum salary “that reflects the going rate for the job” adjusted by region;
- Reinstatement of the Tier 1 post-study work visa;
- Removing the cap on Tier 2 general visa, along with cuts in the costs of making an application.
Lamb described the framework as “sustainable and enforceable” that would promote the UK as “the go-to place for science and innovation”.