Home Secretary, Priti Patel writes in the Mail on Sunday about her plans to shake up the immigration system
Our new Prime Minister has promised a radical rewrite of our immigration system.
As Home Secretary, I’ll be the one making this happen, because this new re-energised and optimistic Government is determined to get the country back on the road to a brighter future.
We’ve waited long enough to get here, so we will realise the benefits of Brexit by getting straight on with the job of grasping the opportunities offered.
We are a Government focused on bringing the change people voted for in the referendum and we want to unequivocally make Britain the greatest country on Earth.
That means ensuring that we continue to push for a dynamic, global Britain that is outward looking and which lifts our standing in the world.
Our vision is for a truly global country – one where we welcome the brightest and best, where we are more outward facing, and where we decide who comes here based on what they have to offer.
One of the things that is great about this country is that we’re a meritocracy. Aspirational, hard-working people who want to come here – and who have the talent and skills to contribute to our economy and society – are very welcome.
And as a daughter of immigrants, I know the immense benefits immigration can bring. There is no dispute about the positive impact of immigration to our country.
That is also why we will ensure EU nationals, who have made their homes here and done so much for our country, continue to stay. I’m delighted that over one million have now applied to our settlement scheme, and I hope many more will follow.
When it’s well managed, migration works in the national interest, for our communities, economy and country.
But we must bring back confidence to our approach and ensure that it works for our nation in the right way and for the right reasons. And to do so we are shaking up the immigration system to make it work for our country and to bring confidence to the public.
To do this we must seize the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity offered by the end of free movement.
Free from the shackles of the EU – and an automatic right of entry for their citizens, with or without work – we will be able to give the type of preference to brilliant scientists, academics and highly-skilled workers that we want to see more of.
People like the biological scientists and biochemists the Migration Advisory Committee recently added to the shortage occupation list, because we desperately need more of them in this country.
We’ll be able to prioritise the people who can and will add significant value to our country.
To do this we will build on the proposals in our White Paper to create a fair new skills-based approach. Where decisions are taken based on what someone can contribute rather than where they come from.
Where those who come fill jobs rather than claiming benefits. And where we’re tougher on those who abuse our hospitality. We will take the Immigration Bill through Parliament to make sure all this can happen.
We’ll give top priority to those with the highest skills and the greatest talents – to attract those who add the most value to our economy. These skilled workers will only be able to come here if they have a job offer from an employer registered with the Home Office, and if they can speak English.
The end of free movement means that we will be able to consider the impact on the existing labour market when determining whether we want unskilled workers from the EU to be able to come to the UK.
Because immigration alone is not the answer. Rather than automatically relying on low-skilled labour from abroad, our new approach means British businesses will have to back our people. They must invest in training, technology and to increase domestic skill levels. We will check all prospective migrants to see if they have a criminal record, to ensure we can exclude those whose past means they’re not welcome here.
And we will ensure we have a strong border to better tackle illegal immigration and to help keep out terrorists, criminals and those that wish to do this country harm.
Change is already on the way. But I will leave no stone unturned to help build our vision of a truly global Britain, and part of that is learning from other countries where things work well.
Politicians have long talked about the benefits of an Australian-style points-based system.
This is a government of action, not empty promises. So I will be urgently commissioning the Migration Advisory Committee – the Government’s independent advisers on immigration matters – to review the system. It will look at elements we can implement to make our system work for the benefit of Britain.
The current migration system means we have to give an automatic right of access to all EU nationals. In future, we will decide who we give preference to, so we can ensure we are able to attract the most talented and skilled from other parts of the world.
An Australian-style points-based system will allow us to welcome talented individuals from all over the world. Deal or No Deal, we will introduce a new, better system that will boost our economy.
This is an immediate first step from a new, motivated Government determined to do more to make this country even better. Leaving the EU will give us back full democratic control of our immigration system, and the freedom to decide for ourselves who comes here. It is an opportunity we can’t afford to squander as we build our vision of a better, bolder Britain.
So I am acting now to ensure we deliver a new immigration system that works in the interests of this country and our citizens. That people can finally have confidence in. That gives control over immigration back to the British public.
An immigration system that will truly make global Britain a beacon for the very best international talent and truly the greatest place in the world.