Government to abandon £30,000 salary threshold for immigrants as part of post-Brexit shake-up

Move would reverse policy set out by Theresa May

Photo: PA

Boris Johnson will ditch the £30,000 minimum salary threshold faced by immigrants coming to the United Kingdom after Brexit, it has been reported.

According to The Times, the prime minister will call time on the earnings requirement as part of a wide-ranging shake-up of the UK's immigration system once it leaves the European Union.

Under rules brought in under Theresa May during her time as home secretary, experienced workers from outside the European Union hoping to live in the UK must be able to earn at least that amount to qualify for a work visa. Recent graduates are required to earn at least £20,800. 


But the government last year ordered the independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to look again at its call to maintain the threshold amid cabinet fears it could deter skilled workers in vital sectors of the economy.

The Times now reports that the strict requirement will be jettisoned under plans for an Australian-style points-based immigration system, which will take migrants' earnings into account alongside a host of other factors including English language skills, occupation and qualifications.

Such a move could spark a backlash from some Conservative MPs, with the party's former leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith already warning ministers to "be cautious about ditching the £30,000 threshold".

"They will need to have very strong checks in place to ensure that they deliver on their pledge to control immigration," he said.

The report comes after Downing Street dropped a clear hint that the earnings threshold could be in line for the chop under the new immigration system set to kick in next year.

Asked whether the £30,000 threshold was discussed at Tuesday's cabinet meeting, the prime minister's official spokesman said: "It wasn’t. That is something we asked MAC to do a separate piece of work on and I would expect that to be published shortly as well." 

But they added: "I think it is worth pointing out that that obviously reflects the immigration system set out by the former government.

"The prime minister is looking at an Australian-style points-based system which is something slightly different."

The Migration Advisory Committee, which makes independent recommendations to the Government on the workings of the immigration system, is due to report next week on how its replacement could work. 

An immigration while paper is then expected in March, with a new system in place once Britain leaves the post-Brexit transition period at the end of the year.

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