Plans to end low-skilled migration from the EU after Brexit have been submitted to the government.
The plans prepared by the pro-Brexit Leave Means Leave, would cut immigration to mid-1990s levels when between 55,000 and 77,000 more people came to the UK than left.
The policy report is backed by senior Conservatives including former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith.
Leave Means Leave said the report which was drawn up in conjunction with the country’s most senior migration experts, calls for a post-Brexit “fair, flexible and forward thinking” policy that will reduce net migration to sustainable levels and honour the result of the referendum.
It calls on the government to focus on training and upskilling British people who are currently unemployed.
While the paper proposes to end low-skilled EU migration, it says that there would be no cap on highly skilled and entrepreneurial migrants from the EU.
The work permit system currently used for non-EU countries would be used as companies are already familiar with it. This would end the unequal treatment of non-EU highly-skilled migrants. This would mean that in order for a highly skilled EU migrant to get a work permit, they would need to fulfil criteria including having an offer of a graduate level job paying a minimum of £30,000 or the appropriate rate for the role, whichever is higher, a minimum level of English language competence, an appropriate amount of savings and evidence of a health insurance policy spanning the duration of the visa before admission to the UK, which would replace the current immigration health surcharge.
In respect of the NHS, both doctors and nurses would qualify as highly skilled workers and would therefore be able to continue to come to the UK under the work permit scheme.
The report proposes eliminating what it terms “generous benefits enjoyed by EU citizens” and limits social benefits, housing benefits and social housing to only those granted permanent residence.
According to the report, EU nationals who have arrived before Brexit should be able to apply for permanent residence after being in Britain for five years and if successful, would then be granted the same rights as those from outside the EU who have settled in Britain.
In order to address the needs of the agricultural and horticultural sectors, the paper calls for a revival of the seasonal agricultural workers (SAWs) scheme which would allow a short term 6-month migration visa. While there would initially be a cap of 25,000, this would be reduced over time because the need for workers is likely to decrease as technology evolves, the report says.
Under the proposals, there would be visa free travel for EU tourists after Brexit and students from the EU who wish to study in the UK would also be able to do so with ease during their studies.
“This is a sensible set of proposals for a future immigration policy that the government should adopt,” said Mr Smith. “It would deliver on the Brexit mandate both to take back control of borders and bring down net levels of migration.”
David Jones MP, who is a Board Member of Leave Means Leave said the report “puts forward sensible immigration control policies that will safeguard the interests of EU nationals already resident in the UK whilst ensuring that business continues to obtain the supply of skilled labour that it needs.”
He described the report as a “thoughtful document that offers practical solutions to a problem that has bedevilled governments for many decades” and urged the government “to give it serious consideration.”