Author: Jon Craig, chief political corerspondent
Theresa May is promising a migration revolution which will mean far fewer low-skilled workers from Europe being allowed into the UK after Brexit.
In what the government claims is the biggest immigration shake-up for decades, highly skilled workers from the EU will be given priority and low-skilled immigration will be curbed.
The immigration crackdown will be unveiled by Home Secretary Sajid Javid in his speech on day three of the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham.
The proposals are based on recommendations by the Migration Advisory Committee, which has proposed that high-skilled workers should be given priority in visa applications over those with low skills.
The plans will be outlined in detail in a white paper to be published in the autumn and the government plans to implement them in an immigration bill to be included in next year’s Queen’s Speech.
The immigration shake-up being announced by the prime minister and home secretary at the Tory conference coincides with the arrival in Birmingham of Boris Johnson, who is due to make a speech savaging the PM’s Chequers plan.
Supporters of the former foreign secretary will see the timing of the government’s migration announcement as a deliberate spoiler aimed at diverting attention from his attack on the prime minister.
Under the government’s proposals, there will be a new single immigration system that treats EU countries the same as non-EU countries.
The UK is also looking at introducing a swift system of e-gate visa checks for tourists and visitors coming to the country for short-stay business trips from all low-risk countries.
The PM says it is important the UK attracts the people the country needs to compete on the global stage while ensuring that immigration is reduced to sustainable levels.
She said: “Two years ago, the British public voted to leave the European Union and take back control of our borders.
“When we leave we will bring in a new immigration system that ends freedom of movement once and for all. For the first time in decades, it will be this country that controls and chooses who we want to come here.
“It will be a skills-based system where it is workers’ skills that matter, not where they come from. It will be a system that looks across the globe and attracts the people with the skills we need.
“Crucially it will be fair to ordinary working people. For too long people have felt they have been ignored on immigration and that politicians have not taken their concerns seriously enough.
“The new skills-based system will make sure low-skilled immigration is brought down and set the UK on the path to reduce immigration to sustainable levels, as we promised. At the same time we are training up British people for the skilled jobs of the future.”
Mr Javid told the Daily Mail: “If you want to come to our country and contribute, great. But in exchange, we expect you to live by our values and respect our values.”
Under the shake up, there will be routes for short-stay business trips and tourists and for those who want to live and work for longer in the UK.
People arriving for a short stay would see passports scanned at e-gates in airports, train stations and ports, for so-called “fly-in, fly-out” visitors.
Currently, EU citizens get fast-tracked through e-gates while tourists or businessmen from countries like Japan and Australia have to queue for passport control.
All security and criminal records checks would be carried out in advance of visits, cutting down red tape for travellers.
These in-country security checks would be a similar system of prior authorisation to that operating in the United States.
For those wanting to live and work in the UK longer term, there will be a new immigration system for applicants with the skills that help meet Britain’s needs.
Applicants will need to meet a minimum salary threshold to ensure they are not competing for jobs that could otherwise be recruited in the UK.
Successful applicants for high-skilled work would be able to bring their immediate family but only if sponsored by their future employers.
The new system will not include a cap on student visas, which are a separate system to work visas and are granted on the basis of academic ability, the ability to speak English and the ability of students to support themselves financially.