Taking back control of our borders

We will end freedom of movement and the preferential treatment of EEA migrants, replacing it with an Australian-style points-based immigration system, delivering on the referendum result and taking back control of our borders.

For too long, politicians have been out of touch with the hardworking majority’s concerns about immigration. The vote to leave the EU was, amongst other things, a vote to take back control of our borders.

That is why, with a functioning Conservative majority, we will get Brexit done and introduce a firm and fair Australian-style points-based immigration system so that we decide who comes to this country on the basis of the skills they have to offer – not where they come from.

Only by installing proper controls and ending the preferential treatment of EEA migrants will we be able to attract the brightest and the best from around the world to come here and contribute to our public services, while relying on far fewer low-skilled migrants and getting overall migration down.

Background

Under EU law, over 500 million EEA/Swiss citizens and their families have the right to move to the UK.

They do not need to have a job or demonstrate they have skills which the UK economy needs. If an EEA/Swiss citizen moves to the UK they are also entitled to bring their family with them.

Under the EU’s freedom of movement rules we are not allowed to automatically deport EEA/Swiss citizens who have committed serious crimes.

EU law states that ‘Previous criminal convictions shall not in themselves constitute grounds for [deporting people].’ Under these laws, Britain has been prevented from deporting murderers, rapists, and other violent criminals.

Under the EU’s freedom of movement rules, EEA/Swiss citizens and their families have, after only three months of residence, almost the same level of entitlement to benefits as British citizens.

They can even claim child benefit for children that are not in the UK.

Our solution

We will get Parliament working again and get Brexit done so that we can end freedom of movement once and for all.

This will allow us to deliver on the referendum result and take back control of our borders.

Regardless of whether they are from Europe or another part of the world, we welcome people who meet our criteria.

We will end the preferential treatment of EEA-migrants so that we can attract the brightest and the best from all over the world.

We will introduce an Australian-style points-based system under which we will decide who comes here based on what they have to offer – not where they come from.

The system will be based upon principles of fairness and contribution – giving priority to those who:

  • Can prove their knowledge of the English language;
  • Are coming to do important work, including in priority industries;
  • Are setting up businesses that would employ and invest in British people and pay taxes in the UK;
  • Have been law abiding citizens in their own countries; and
  • Have the skills the country needs.

We have commissioned the independent Migration Advisory Committee to consider how an Australian-style points-based system could be introduced in the UK.

The Migration Advisory Committee has also been commissioned to review the salary thresholds for the future immigration system. It will report to the government by January 2020 on both and we will consider its advice.

Our points based system will mean that the vast majority will need a job offer to come to the UK to work, whether you are an EU citizen or come from outside Europe – meaning we have truly fair and global immigration system.

The will be a small number of exceptions, including high skilled scientists and those who want to come and start a business in the UK.

The small number of the best STEM graduates from the top universities – such as those who win world renown scientific prizes – will be offered fast-track entry to the UK, and for such applicants, they will not need a confirmed job offer.

We will work with leading organisations such as the Royal Society to create a new global talent visa route for those who can drive scientific progress and benefit public services like our NHS.

We will keep track of who is coming in and out of our country to ensure the immigration system is fair and compassionate.

When we don’t know who is coming in and out of our country, and who has a right to be here, it can have terrible consequences for families – as the Windrush scandal showed. We will continue to right the wrongs faced by the Windrush generation and ensure that something like that can never happen again.

We will not allow serious criminals into the country as happens now under EU rules.

We cannot currently automatically reject EEA migrants with criminal convictions. This will end. If people abuse our hospitality by committing crimes, we will remove them.

We are making an immediate in-year cash injection of £20 million to strengthen our borders and reduce illegal immigration, including new equipment to better detect illicit goods such as the firearms and drugs fuelling serious violence.

We will also develop a long-term and coherent approach to address the abhorrent exploitation and trafficking of vulnerable people by international criminal gangs.

Conservative record

Protected the rights of EU citizens who have made the UK their home. We want EU citizens who came to live in the UK before Brexit to stay.

That is why we have guaranteed their rights with the EU Settlement Scheme free of charge, which we will also put into law at the earliest opportunity. Over 1.9 million EEA/Swiss citizens have received settled or pre-settled status so far.

Allowing international students to stay in the UK for two years after graduating to help them find a job.

International students who have successfully completed a degree from a trusted UK university or higher education provider will be able to stay in the UK for two years to find work.This will attract more talented international students to the UK to allow them to gain valuable work experience as they go on to build successful careers.

Introducing a new NHS Visa, offering fast-track entry to the UK for qualified overseas doctors and nurses under more generous terms.

It will provide a three to five-year work visa with a fast-track decision, a larger dedicated advice service for applicants, and reduced upfront fees.  

Removing doctors and nurses from the Tier 2 visa cap so the NHS can recruit more international staff to care for patients.

As part of our long-term plan for the NHS, this means there is no restriction on the numbers of highly skilled doctors and nurses who can be employed through the Tier 2 visa route.

Ensured that people are coming to the UK for the right reasons.

We imposed tougher rules on universities and colleges who sponsor international students to study in the UK, limited access to benefits for migrants and stopped people sending benefits home. We also introduced measures to prevent illegal immigrants from accessing public services like our NHS, as well as housing, driving licences and bank accounts.

Clamped down on illegal immigration and protecting migrants from abuse.

We have introduced sanctions on illegal workers and rogue employers, who often take advantage of vulnerable migrants, and made it easier and quicker to remove people with no right to be here.