On Friday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised to introduce an Australian style points-based visa policy from January 1, 2021. Essentially, such policy will cut immigration figures by blocking entry to unskilled people.
The timing of the statement
Johnson’s comments come amid his campaign for the December 12 general elections. His Conservative Party’s manifesto has pushed a “skills-based visa policy” that will be applicable from nationals of all countries, including India. As per the previous manifesto, the party wanted to reduce net migration to less than 100,000. “We’ll take steps to ensure that the Australian-style points-based immigration system is in place by January 1, 2021. By lowering the number of unskilled immigrants who have been able to come here with no job lined up, the system will remove a major force that puts a downward pressure on wages,” a PTI report quoted Johnson as saying.
What’s a points-based policy?
In Australia’s migration programme, there is a stream for skilled workers, to fill positions where no Australian workers are available. According to the Australian government’s Department of Home Affairs, “The Skilled stream also plays an important role in regional development through providing skills and labour which can’t be sourced locally, as well as encouraging investment and promoting local spending in regional areas.”
For workers with an “eligible skilled occupation” there are 10 categories of visas available. Applications are tested with points awarded in various categories. One of these is “Skilled Independent Visa”. A migrant with this visa can live and work permanently anywhere in Australia, study in Australia, sponsor eligible relatives for permanent residence and if eligible, enrol in Australia’s health-care system and subject to eligibility, also become an Australian citizen.
Generally, for visas that are points-tested, points may be given for different categories ranging from age to proficiency in English and amount of work experience. For instance, an individual in the age group 25-32 gets the most points in that category, whereas an individual above the age of 45 gets none. To be granted such visas, the individual’s score must reach a cutoff fixed by the authorities.
Some of the skilled jobs that come under the ambit of the skilled migration program include: accountant, actor, aeronautical engineer, advertising manager, air conditioning and mechanical services plumber, author, baker, swimming coach, urologist and vegetable grower.