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Britain announces immigration policy barring unskilled migrants

Britain announced an immigration policy Wednesday that would prevent unskilled migrants from entering the country, requiring migrants to be English-speaking and have a job.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said the new policy will make it easier for “the brightest and the best from around the world” to enter the country, calling it a “historic moment for the whole country.”

The plan, which is intended to go into effect Jan. 1, 2021, aims to reduce the country’s reliance on “low-skilled” migrants and push companies to develop technology and automation.

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It is encouraging firms to recruit foreigners “with greatest talents,” such as “scientists, engineers, academics and other highly-skilled workers,” according to the government’s description of the policy.

“We need to shift the focus of our economy away from a reliance on cheap labor from Europe and instead concentrate on investment in technology and automation,” the Home Office announced.

Patel asserted in various TV and radio interviews Wednesday that businesses need to focus on recruiting “economically inactive” British-born adults between the ages of 16 and 64, instead of bringing migrants into the country.

The Home secretary requested firms dial in on the British natives and “up their skills and make their skills relevant,” according to The Guardian.

The immigration policy will overhaul current rules and create a “points-based” system, in which migrants need to meet a threshold based on their skills, qualifications and potential salaries, according to the government policy paper.

In addition to speaking English, migrants need to prove they have a job offer from a known employer with a minimum 25,600 pound (about $33,000) salary.

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President Trump and the White House announced a similar “merit-based” plan in May, promoting immigration for those who speak English and have college degrees over other immigrants.

Before Brexit, European Union citizens were allowed to move between countries, but the policy announced Wednesday would eliminate that freedom of movement.

Many of the U.K.’s current immigrants come from Eastern Europe and work in industries like food processing, hospitality, construction, kitchen work and elderly care. At least 3.2 million European Union residents who are already in the U.K. will be permitted to stay and work. 

The move reflects the 2016 Brexit vote, in which U.K. citizens decided to separate themselves from the European Union. Four years later, Brexit was finalized and the U.K. is in a transition period as negotiations with the European Union take place. 

Johnson will introduce the bill next month.

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