Australia and other Commonwealth countries are demanding that the UK government should give their citizens similar rights that their European Union counterparts get to come and reside in the country after Brexit.
Julie Bishop, the Australian foreign minister, was quoted by The Times as telling it that her colleagues would be unhappy and concerned if the UK imposes more regulations on workers from Australia than on those from the EU. New Zealand and Canada also shared concerns with Australia and hinted that this issue would be raised in any trade talks, said an Australian government source.
The UK Home Office is drafting plans for a ‘light touch’ online system for workers applying to work in Britain from the member states of EU.
As per the proposals, EU nationals would be allowed to enter the UK visa-free and employers would take up the responsibility to apply for their work permits. The government would regulate the number of total permits to be issued in different sectors and could hike its fees to promote businesses to recruit locals.
The BBC was quoted as reporting that citizens of EU who intended to settle or study in the UK would also need to get permissions.
Commonwealth nations have warned the British government that such a system would be biased against their citizens, most of whom have to apply for a visa and have an assured job before they land in Britain for employment.
As per the present immigration rules, nationals of Australia arriving for work in the UK need to get a tier-two visa, which allows them to stay in the country for up to five years. They are eligible for it so long as they land a skilled job in the UK and receive a certificate of sponsorship from their employer and have at least £945 in savings. In addition, they need to prove that they would earn a minimum of £25,000, barring in a few cases.
In 2016, Britain allowed 137,000 EU citizens to enter the country to work. At the same time, there are around 157,000 nationals of Australia and New Zealand in the UK.
Imposing a stringent work regime on the EU would affect UK nationals who intend to work on the Continent. If Britain agrees to a deal with the EU which is softer for the latter’s citizens than for others, then the UK would face heat to come up with a deal that is also fair to Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
Meanwhile, the Indian government has also pointed out that migration would be a crucial talking point in any future trade talks between it and the UK.
Irudaya Rajan, an adviser to the Indian government on migration issues, said that issues of mobility were important to them. He added that they could not exclude free movement of people from the free trade.
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