The new legislation will abolish, at the end of the transition period that expires on December 31, the specific migration rights of citizens of the European Economic Area.
British MPs passed the law ending the free movement of workers from the European Union on Monday night, in a vote overshadowed by the debate over foreign health workers and the coronavirus.
The Labor Party and other opposition forces rejected the bill, but it passed its first stage with ease thanks to the votes of the conservative majority, 351 to 252, for which the adoption is guaranteed.
The new legislation will abolish, at the end of the transition period that expires on December 31, the specific migration rights of citizens of the European Economic Area – made up of the EU plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein – and Switzerland.
The text does not detail the new criteria to be applied, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson has already advanced a point system that should favour highly skilled workers.
The arrival of migrants from the poorest countries in the EU was one of the main arguments of the campaign for the 2016 Brexit referendum.
Interior Minister Priti Patel on Monday promised a “stronger, fairer and simpler” system that “will play a vital role” in the economic recovery after the coronavirus pandemic.
But according to Labor opponent Nick Thomas-Symonds, the new system is “a threat” to the public NHS health system, which is highly dependent on foreign health personnel.
According to plans announced by the government, to be able to work in the UK migrants would have to earn at least £ 25,600 a year ($ 31,300, € 28,600). It is less than the national average wage (£ 30,420), but more than what many charges in the health and social sector.
More than 13% of NHS employees are foreigners and 5.5% are EU citizens.
Patel noted that the government introduced an accelerated visa procedure for doctors, nurses and other health professionals and promised an automatic one-year extension for current visas that expire before October.