The issue of immigration has been one of the hottest topics in the debate over Britain’s future in the EU.
Ahead of this month’s referendum on whether we should stay or go, Brexit campaigners have argued that under EU free movement regulations Britain is powerless to stop unlimited numbers of migrants coming to the country.
They say that by leaving the EU Britain would be free to set its own immigration policies and control who enters the country and cite Australia’s points-based assessment for economic migrants as a model for Britain to follow.
This week three of the key Tory figures in the Vote Leave campaign - Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Priti Patel - issued a statement outlining how they believed a post-EU Britain would operate.
They wrote: “Those seeking entry for work or study should be admitted on the basis of their skills without discrimination on the ground of nationality. To gain the right to work, economic migrants will have to be suitable for the job in question.”
However, those supporting the Remain campaign warn such a policy could backfire and harm British workers here and abroad.
Those seeking entry for work or study should be admitted on the basis of their skills without discrimination on the ground of nationalityBREXIT statement
This week the Spanish president warned: “Leaving the European Union would mean British citizens would lose their right to move freely, work and do business within the largest economic area, the largest market in the world.
“Over 100,000 Spanish citizens work and live in the United Kingdom. Over 400,000 British citizens work and live in Spain.”
The much-referenced Australian system - which is separate from its humanitarian migration policy - was created to match immigration to the country’s economic needs. It grades everyone applying for a visa to work there on a number of categories, awarding points to each category. To secure a visa, applicants must score a total of 60 points.
The categories considered are:
All applicants for a work visa must be less than 50 years old. Ranging from 0 for anyone over the age of 45 to 30 for anyone aged 25-32, age is one of the key components of the test
All applicants are expected to have “competent” English when they apply but points are only awarded to those deemed to have “proficient” or “superior” English, amounting to between 10 and 20 points
The system gives weight to those who can demonstrate particular skills. In fact, there is a Skilled Occupation List and applicants must nominate an occupation from this list to be considered for a visa. They are then graded on their experience in that the job and whether they have experience doing it in Australia.
As with job skills points are awarded for educational qualifications, with more points going to those who can prove more advanced qualifications. Also as with occupation, relevant Australian qualifications score more highly.
Potential migrants can apply for an “unsupported” visa or can seek sponsorship from a resident relative or government body, which will earn them five points towards their 60-point total
Applying to work in an area of the country with low population or low population growth also adds points to visa applications, as can any professional skills offered by an applicant’s partner or qualifications in a “community language”.