Boris Johnson has scrapped the target to lower net migration to tens of thousands as he slashes the £35,800 salary cap for skilled UK migrants.
The plan, which ditches the aim put forward by Theresa May‘s government, was announced in a 507-page rulebook on Thursday.
Under the new proposal, the cap needed for skilled migrants to stay in the UK without any time restrictions will be reduced to £25,600.
It comes as Mr Johnson pursues an Australian-style points-based immigration system, which will take earnings into account along with a myriad of other factors, and comes into effect from January next year.
Boris Johnson, pictured walking to 10 Downing Street yesterday, has been pursuing an Australian-style points-based immigration system, which will come into effect next year
The move, which has been confirmed by the Home Office and will be introduced from December 1, was spotted by Oxford University’s Migration Observatory.
The project’s deputy director, Rob McNeill, told The Telegraph: ‘They are acknowledging that the bluntest of all the instruments the Government used to get to that target of tens of thousands has been kicked into touch.’
Migration Watch UK’s Chairman, Alp Mehmet, described the move as ‘outrageous’, adding: ‘To make matters worse, these major changes are being sneaked in through the back door with scant detail and a lack of advance warning.’
It follows figures revealing in August that net migration to the UK soared to its highest level since the Brexit referendum in 2016 in the build up to the coronavirus outbreak.
A surge in student numbers, specially from south east Asia, saw 313,000 more people enter the UK than left in the year to March, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
This was an increase in around 92,000 on the figure in March 2019 and the highest level since March 2016, when net migration was an estimated 326,000.
But the figures were likely to be the last to see large numbers of people entering and leaving the UK, due to the lockdown that came into force at the end of that month.
Over the past year, around 715,000 people moved to the UK and around 403,000 people left the UK, according to the ONS report.
The Prime Minister has ditched the target put forward by Theresa May’s government, which aimed to lower net migration to tens of thousands (file photo)
Figures revealed in August showed that net migration to the UK soared to its highest level since the Brexit referendum in 2016 in the build up to the coronavirus outbreak
Meanwhile, Home Secretary Priti Patel has been grappling with a surge in migrants crossing the Channel in recent months.
Some 90 hotels are being used by the Home Office to house migrants being processed, including four-star accommodation under a £4billion outsourcing contract.
There has been a surge in the number of migrants arriving in Britain this year, with media reports suggesting that about 1,500 people travelled across the English Channel in small boats and dinghies in August alone.
In total, there were more than 32,000 asylum applications in the United Kingdom in the year ending June 2020.
A spokesperson for the Home Office said: ‘We have changed the salary threshold required for settlement from £35,800 to either the general level – £25,600 – or the going rate for the individual’s profession, whichever is higher.’