Unskilled migrants must be stopped from moving to Britain for five years to help push net migration down to fewer than 50,000, Brexit campaigners have said.
A new visa system should be introduced that cuts numbers but still allows the ‘brightest and the best from around the world’ to work in the UK, according to lobby group Leave Means Leave.
It has set out proposals that combine an Australian-style points-based system with plans for work permits that would come into force after Britain has left the European Union.
Applicants would be assessed on their education, qualifications and suitability for work.
Report author Steven Wool f e, who sits as an independent MEP after quitting Ukip following an altercation in the European Parliament that left him in hospital, will say in a speech today: ‘We need an immigration system that is fair, flexible and forward-thinking.
‘It must be fair in its outlook, flexible in practice and forward-thinking for our economy.
‘Brexit is not about splendid isolation – it’s about re-engaging with the world, without our wings clipped by the European Union.
‘This new British working visa system will deliver on the will of the electorate. It won’t mean pulling up the drawbridge, as we will continue to encourage the best and the brightest to migrate and settle here.
‘But by introducing strict controls, an annual cap and a five-year freeze on unskilled migrants, it will reduce net migration year-on-year, lessen the strain on our public services and help build a more cohesive society.’
Under the proposed British working visa system, there would be no cap on highly skilled workers, entrepreneurs or investors. But unskilled visas would be halted for five years to bring migration levels down to 1990s levels.
Permits would only be granted if the applicant had a job offer with a minimum £35,000 salary and had passed an English language test, signed a five-year private health insurance contract and had savings in the bank.
Up to 50,000 temporary work permits would be issued initially for agricultural workers tapering off to zero by the third year.
There would be no restrictions on the numbers of students who wanted to head to the UK.
Exemptions would be made for health workers if they were needed from overseas but the focus should be on increasing the number of Britons working in the medical profession, according to the report.
Benefits would only be available after a migrant had paid a set level of taxes for five years and reunion rights for international students and temporary workers would end.
EU nationals already settled in the UK would have the right to remain indefinitely as long as Brussels adopted the same approach to UK citizens living in Europe.
But the Government should immediately announce a cut-off date for when new arrivals no longer qualify, the report said.