Low-skilled EU migrants free to travel to UK until 2025, Sajid Javid's post-Brexit immigration plans reveal

19 December 2018, 12:46 | Updated: 19 December 2018, 13:54

Tens of thousands of low-skilled migrants from the EU will be free to travel to the UK to look for work until at least 2025, the government has announced.

Under plans revealed in the immigration white paper, a new scheme will allow migrants to continue coming to the UK amid concerns that ending freedom of movement would have a damaging impact on British businesses.

The scheme will be open to all EU states and workers will be free to live and work in Britain for a year before being asked to leave for 12 months before applying again.

It was revealed in a document published by the Home Secretary Sajid Javid detailing the UK's new immigration policy after it leaves the European Union.

It would come into effect after the end of the implementation period in December 2020 and set new rules aimed at cutting net migration to sustainable levels.

Mr Javid said the policy will end freedom of movement, set a new framework for migration based on skills not nationality and end preferential treatment for EU nationals.

An immigration bill will be tabled in Parliament on Thursday which will bring four key changes into UK law in time for Brexit day in March 2019, the Home Office said.

These include ending free movement, protecting the rights of Irish nationals in the UK, setting out a new framework for the UK's immigration policy and aligning benefit rules after Brexit.

A year-long consultation will also be launched amid a row over whether skilled migrants should have to earn more than £30,000 before they qualify for the right to work in the UK.

:: Those coming to the UK from the EU will be free to visit for up to six months without requiring a visa, although they will need an online document to prove they have the right to travel

:: Skilled workers will have to secure a job offer before they arrive and have to have a minimum qualification of A-Level or above. There will be no cap on the number of people coming to the UK via this route, but ministers have launched a consultation to decide whether they should have to earn more than £30,000 in order to apply

:: There will be a pilot scheme to ensure agricultural businesses do not suffer as a result of the tougher rules, which will allow them to bring in low-skilled workers on a temporary basis. It will not be open to other sectors.

:: Graduates will be given six months to find work in the UK after they finish their studies. PhD students will have a year under new rules.

:: A transitional scheme to allow low-skilled migration will be set up and reviewed in 2025. The government has also pledged to help businesses find alternative workers to replace those coming from EU states. This could also include increased use of machines and technology.

The transitional measure for low-skilled workers, which would be open to nationals of "low risk countries", would allow people to look for work in the UK for 12 months and would not require someone to have a job beforehand or be sponsored by an employer.

It is understood to have been designed as a safety valve after businesses and some government ministers warned cutting off low-skilled labour from Europe would damage the UK economy.

Those using this route would not be able to bring family members or access benefits as the Home Office wants it to be temporary.

Skilled workers from all over the world will be able to apply for a visa to work in the UK and there will be no cap on the number of people allowed to come.

But they may have to earn more than £30,000 a year depending on the result of the government's consultation.

In a bid to ensure sectors which have staff shortages are not adversely affected by the new salary threshold, the Migration Advisory Committee has been asked to look at the average salaries of those on the list.

If they are under £30,000 this threshold could be lowered for certain professions.

The white paper states Brexit gives the UK the opportunity to "reset the conversation on migration" but ministers are also understood to have disagreed over whether to include a direct promise to cut net migration to the tens of thousands, as set out in the Conservative Party's manifesto.

Mr Javid failed to repeat the phrase but said immigration should be brought down to "sustainable levels", while the prime minister is understood to want to keep the tough target because it was promised to voters.

Home Office experts believe the number of EU nationals coming to the UK under the transitional low-skilled scheme would be similar to the number currently coming