The British government on Wednesday presented tougher post-Brexit immigration plans, aimed at reducing the flow of “low skills” labour.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said that the Conservative government wanted to “encourage people with the right talent.”
The envisaged system, due to take effect as of January 2021, would be based on a points-based immigration system similar to that applied by Australia.
It would “open up the UK to the brightest and the best from around the world,” Patel said in a statement.
“We’re ending free movement, taking back control of our borders,” she said, adding that the changes will “bring overall migration numbers down.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives outlined the plan in their election manifesto in 2019.
The plan was expected to affect migrants from the EU, which Britain recently left, while making it easier for people seeking to come to Britain from outside the EU.
An estimated 3.2 million citizens from other EU countries live in Britain, with nationals of Poland comprising the largest single group.
Key sectors that rely on cheap labour include catering, nursing, construction and agriculture.
The opposition Labour Party and Liberal Democrats, as well as trade unions and business associations, were critical of the plan.
Unison, which represents health workers, said it would “spell absolute disaster for the care sector.”
Dame Thornton, Britain’s independent anti-slavery commissioner, warned that people traffickers will “seek every opportunity to abuse new immigration policies,” the Press Association reported.