Publishedduration1 hour ago
New immigration rules will be “simple and flexible”, ministers have promised, as the UK’s points-based post-Brexit system prepares to go live.
From Tuesday all foreign nationals, including from the European Union, who want to work in the UK from 1 January will have to apply online for a visa.
Those seeking a skilled worker visa will need a job offer, to be proficient in English and earn at least £25,600.
Free movement from and to the EU will come to an end on 31 December.
The UK left the EU on 31 January but has been largely following its rules during the subsequent 11-month transition period, as the two sides try to reach agreement over a trade deal.
As talks continue in London, the UK is stepping up its preparations for leaving the EU’s single market and customs union at the end of the year.
The government has announced it is setting up a new Border Operations Centre, which it says will ensure round-the-clock surveillance of goods and passengers coming in and out of British ports for the first time.
Border preparations stepped up
Cutting-edge software will be used to gather information about the flow of goods and passengers in the hope of minimising the amount of “short-term” disruption at the border in the days and weeks after 1 January.
Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said the new system, which will be manned 24/7, would enable the authorities to identify and get on top of bottlenecks “quickly and decisively”
Business groups have said delays at the border are inevitable given the looming changes to customs procedures while Labour said “glaring questions” remained unanswered about what businesses needed to do.
“The government is putting the burden on businesses to prepare for the end of the transition period when it has not explained what it is those businesses are getting ready for,” said shadow minister Rachel Reeves.
“The government is re-badging a basic element of preparation but still can’t tell us how many customs agents are recruited or trained or whether crucial IT is ready.”
To tackle what the Cabinet Office calls the “challenges” of potential disruption at the UK border next year, a Border Operations Centre will use big data technology to try to “identify the root causes” of hold-ups to passengers and freight.
The software system is produced by the controversial US tech firm Palantir and will pull together information from different government computers to monitor the flow of people and vehicles across the UK border.
Palantir has courted controversy in the United States, where its systems are used by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
This has led the human rights organisation Amnesty International to warn of “a high risk that Palantir is contributing to serious human rights violations of migrants and asylum-seekers”.