(Reuters) - A draft proposal for European Union immigration arrangements after Brexit, with measures to drive down the number of lower-skilled EU migrants entering Britain, was published by The Guardian newspaper.
The British government would “end free movement in its current form” in March 2019, forcing employers to prioritise local labour over EU citizens, the document says.
Following are the main points in the 82-page document:
“We are clear that, where possible, UK employers should look to meet their labour needs from resident labour,” said the leaked document, dated August 2017.
It said the government was “minded” that those in highly skilled occupations with a job contract of more than 12 months would be given a work permit lasting three to five years.
For those in other types of jobs, the period might be up to two years.
“Put plainly, this means that, to be considered valuable to the country as a whole, immigration should benefit not just the migrants themselves but also make existing residents better off.”
There are measures to ensure employers prioritise resident workers, including an “economic needs tests” that bosses must complete to ensure that recruits cannot be found locally, the document says.
It is also possible that migrants will have to demonstrate proof of a prior job offer before entering the UK.
The government may introduce a specific income threshold for some EU citizens before they are allowed to reside, to ensure they have enough income to support themselves, the document says.
Measures are also being touted to “reduce the opportunity for workers to settle long-term in the UK and to bring their dependents, especially at lower-skill level”.
The paper sets out tough restrictions on residency by the families of EU nationals working in the UK, redefining it to mean direct family members only, including “durable” partners and children under 18 and adult dependent relatives.
“Extended family members” would no longer qualify as family members under new UK law, it said.
A new immigration policy would be introduced in three stages. First, before Brexit, would involve the introduction of an immigration bill, bringing EU migration within a UK legal framework.
During this phase those who have arrived before a specified date can apply for “settled status”, and free movement of EU citizens will continue to apply.
A second stage involves a temporary implementation period of “at least two years”, in which a “smooth and orderly exit” for employers and individuals will be made possible and in which free movement will cease to apply.
A final phase would be when the new rules would be put in place to “control the type and volume of both temporary and permanent migration from the EU, in the national interest”.
Criteria for residence will include “basic proof of employment/self employment” and, to protect against identity fraud, may include taking the finger prints of new arrivals.
Those rules, yet to be decided, will “take into account social and economic circumstances closer to the time” and will incorporate the advice of the independent Migration Advisory Committee.
The paper sets out proposals to require EU nationals to show their passports when they come to the UK. Other types of identification will no longer be enough.
The document also says the UK intends “to strengthen our ability to refuse entry to EU citizens with a criminal record or whom we consider a threat to the UK.”
Reporting by Elisabeth O'Leary; Editing by Toby Chopra