Expert warns new visa system will be 'damaging'

The UK's proposed new immigration system could result in "damaging, long-term consequences, potentially for years to come", according to a leading academic.

Image illustrating an article about EU immigration as a result of Brexit
Thom Brooks, dean of Durham University Law School and the nation's only professor of law and government, dismisses as "complete nonsense" Prime Minister Boris Johnson's assertion that the new points-based system, scheduled to come into effect on December 31, will be "fairer, faster and firmer".Writing on The Independent website, Prof Brooks also questions the time available for parliamentary scrutiny of the new legislation. "They have little time to waste as the current timescale is this system will need to be passed in parliament and functioning by year’s end. This task is Herculean as the legal rulebook is already over 2,000 pages long," he says."Unfortunately, the government has set its first task to dismantle parts of the current system before having parliament consider what might replace it."

New UK immigration system will not be fair, faster or firmer

Prof Brooks argues that the new system will not be fair because, based on the £25,600 salary threshold, many people will simply be deemed not highly skilled enough to qualify for a visa.He also maintains the system will not be faster because the same "sticking points", such as checks on criminal records, past bankruptcies and tax history, will continue to apply."And the system will most definitely not be firmer," Prof Brooks adds. "We know this from the government’s white paper which made it clear applications will be treated differently depending on the new trade deals agreed with countries post-Brexit."There will not be a single standard for all non-UK citizens to meet, but multiple standards depending on arbitrary nationality and various combinations of points."

"A great piece of propaganda"

He maintains the initial launch of the system was "a great piece of propaganda" which gave the false impression that future immigration would be based on points awarded in only a few categories."But this is a world away from the reality. The white paper is again clear that there will be many more categories and factors included, such as giving points for education based not on qualifications, but experience instead. Discretion on what counts and for how much, will play no less a central role in future as it does now."What is worse is the fact that much of how this system will operate won’t be known until after it’s in place. Instead of getting Brexit done, the white paper is plain that it may be two or more years before a full first draft of points is sorted. This is neither fair, faster or firmer by any measure."

New UK immigration system will create chaos

Prof Brooks points out that points-based systems exist in countries such as Australia primarily to increase migration by attracting the right skills."The idea is if earning points for qualifications, salary levels and language proficiency can guarantee a right to work, this will incentivise those who can, to pack their bags and move to Australia. And yet Johnson’s government remains bound to a manifesto commitment to cut, not raise, immigration. Instead of simplicity, he will create chaos," maintains Prof Brooks."Experts should not have the last word on immigration or other areas. But Johnson could do with taking advice from a few of us before he creates a creature looking the opposite of what is intended with damaging, long-term consequences for potentially years to come."

Read more news and views from David Sapsted.

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