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Immigration

UK Brexit immigration plan revealed in leaked document

British Prime Minister Theresa May has long said the free movement of labor will have to end, but a new document reveals how. The Home Office has proposed a two-tier system for European Union citizens.

Britain intends to end the free movement of labor immediately after it exits the European Union and to place restrictions on lower-skilled EU migrants, according to a leaked government document published by The Guardian newspaper on Tuesday.

The 82-page Home Office draft document marked "sensitive" reveals detailed proposals to manage migration after Brexit and its plan to prioritize British labor.

"Put plainly, this means that, to be considered valuable to the country as a whole, immigration should benefit not just the migrants themselves but also make existing residents better off," the document says.

Read more: Net UK migration down 25 percent as EU Brexodus begins

The document details a two-tier system for EU citizens arriving after Brexit, with lower-skilled workers limited to two-year residence permits. Highly skilled workers would be eligible for residence permits for three to five years under the proposals.

The proposals also "tighten up" the definition of family members allowed to accompany EU workers in Britain, limiting it to partners, children under 18 and adult dependent relatives.

All EU citizens would be required to travel on a passport rather than the national identity cards that are currently allowed.

The Guardian said the document had been circulated to senior officials and ministers but had not yet been endorsed by Prime Minister Theresa May's top team of ministers.

The UK government told news agencies it did not comment on leaked documents.

"We will be setting out our initial proposals for a new immigration system which takes back control of the UK's borders later in the autumn," a government spokesman said.

Read more: UK opposition Labour Party makes dramatic shift on EU single market and customs union

May previously said the free movement of labor would have to end when Britain leaves the bloc, but the new document offers new detail on what kind of immigration system the government envisions.

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Preferred treatment for EU citizens

The proposals hint at the idea of EU citizens having preferred treatment over their non-EU counterparts. "The future immigration regime for EU citizens will not necessarily be the same as the existing one for non-EU nationals. For example, we may wish to operate a preferential arrangement as part of any negotiated deal with the EU, either temporarily or permanently," the document reads.

But the focus remains on letting British citizens fill job vacancies by encouraging training and requiring businesses to undergo an economic means test before hiring foreign talent.

"We will continue to encourage employers to invest in training and fill skills gaps within the resident UK workforce and take a longer-term view of this investment, ensuring that we continue to have a competitive edge in the globalized world," the draft document reads.

Read more: UK food sector gravely worried about labor shortage

EU workers would be required to have a job offer in hand before entering the UK for work.

The measures would be implemented over a probable two-year period.

aw/bw (AFP, Reuters)

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