The Prime Minister, Theresa May, on Monday 1st October set out details of how Britain will take back control of its borders and reduce immigration to sustainable levels through a new post-Brexit system.


In the biggest shake-up in decades, high-skilled workers who want to live and work in Britain will be given priority while low skilled immigration will be curbed.


There will be a new single immigration system that treats EU countries the same as non EU countries.

And the UK is 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 Prime Minister said Post-Brexit Britain will be an outward facing nation - but it is important the UK attracts the people the country needs to compete on the global stage whilst 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.”


The proposals follow a report from the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) that recommended high-skilled workers are given priority over visa applications from low-skilled workers. The report was based on an immigration policy that had a level playing field for EU nationals and applicants from other countries.

A White Paper detailing how the new system will work will be published this autumn, ahead of an Immigration Bill next year.


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.


Under plans being developed 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.


The ability of people from trading partners to deliver services and student exchange programmes will form part of future trade agreements.


The Government has already announced rights for the existing three million EU citizens already living and working in the UK will be safeguarded – even in the event of no deal.