MPs propose permit-free work for skilled migrants to combat post-Brexit immigration policy vacuum

'Given the urgency of the situation, we took the proactive step of deciding to develop our own immigration proposal that works for the science and innovation community'

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Thursday 19 July 2018 06:06
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Report recommends ministers establish visa-free and permit-free work for a maximum of 180 days for skilled workers
Report recommends ministers establish visa-free and permit-free work for a maximum of 180 days for skilled workers

​MPs have called for visa-free travel and permit-free work for skilled workers for up to six months in a challenge to the post-Brexit immigration policy vacuum.

In a fresh report, parliament’s science and technology committee claims government delays in confirming how an immigration system will function after withdrawing from the bloc is “deeply damaging” for the science and innovation community.

The cross-party MPs on the committee said they were “disappointed” the government had failed to “bring forward its conclusions in relation to the immigration arrangements needed to support science and innovation” in its previous report.

“Given the urgency of the situation, we took the proactive step of deciding to develop our own immigration proposal that works for the science and innovation community,” they said.

The report recommends that ministers establish visa-free and permit-free work for a maximum of 180 days for skilled workers and also highlights concerns over the eligibility for the Tier 1 visa – designed for those with exceptional talents.

Eligibility and proof of intent to leave within the period would be verified at the border and those arriving through the scheme would also require a letter from their employer describing the nature of the skilled work.

For long-term migration, the committee proposed the introduction of five-year skilled work permits.

This route would be open to those with a job offer or third-party sponsorship, and a minimum salary reflecting the “going rate” for the role.

The committee chair and Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb said: “Collaboration is crucial to the UK maintaining its position as a science superpower, and it is essential that the UK has an immigration systems that facilitates the mobility of the science and innovation community.

“Delay in confirming how the system will work following Brexit is deeply damaging. Industry and research communities urgently need certainty.”

He continued: “If the UK wishes to remain open and attractive to the brightest and best global talent following Brexit, it requires an immigration system that allows researchers, technicians, students and innovative entrepreneurs to arrive and work in the UK without facing a burdensome and daunting process.

“Nobody wants to see damage to our economy as a result of restricting the ability of skilled workers to come to this country. This is essential for our future prosperity.”

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