Britain


Australian points-based visa system would not work in the UK, it is claimed

by Ray Clancy on December 17, 2014

An Australian points-based immigration system would be totally unsuitable for the UK because the two countries have very different migration policies, a new report says.

The system is highly regarded because the Australians have achieved effective control of their borders and they can also identify and accurately record those who arrive and depart, according to the report from Migration Watch UK.

Australian Visitor

Experts says an Australian-style points-based visa system would not work in the UK

But the report says that the Australian context could hardly be more different than that of the UK. It points out that many Australians believe that they have a strategic need to grow and have the space to do so. Both major parties favour increased legal migration and the points-based system is a means to that end.

Furthermore, net immigration to Australia is proportionately three times higher than the UK as the Australian Government pursues a strategy of population growth through immigration.

It claims that when the last Labour Government attempted a version of a points-based system, it led to chaos from which the Home Office have been trying to recover for four years. “One of the main problems was that it almost eliminated the element of human judgement and was intended to do so. In practice, this turned out to be hopeless as the circumstances of each case are much too varied and complex for a box ticking system to work,” it says.

“A points based system might suit the Australians who are trying to increase their population but, in fact, it is extremely complex and would be a non-starter for the UK,” said Alp Mehmet, vice chairman of Migration Watch UK.

“Yet another re-hash of such a system would be a disaster. What we need are a visa system and border checks that work and the resources required for enforcement,” he added.

He said that the Australian system is, in fact, extremely complex, despite covering less than 60% of skilled work migration and only around 15% of all migrants entering Australia and is intended for job seekers, not employers, who have a different route for recruitment.

The report claims that for the UK, a low cap would be needed for each category, with all the attendant difficulties, but the Australians can afford a high cap as their net immigration rate is, in proportion to their population, three times that of the UK, at 240,000 per year on a population one third of the UK’s.

The report says that a mechanical, points based test that reduces or even eliminates human discretion cannot cope with the complexities of immigration to the UK and has already failed once.

It explains that this contributed, for example, to the mass abuse of the student visa in the Indian Sub-Continent in 2008 which forced a temporary closure of the relevant visa sections. The subsequent introduction of interviews was intended to remedy some of the weaknesses that became apparent.

There are also other stark differences. Australia operates under a Universal Visa system, which means all non-citizens require a valid visa both to enter Australia and remain. This is markedly different to the UK, where the 500 million citizens of the European Union have free movement to and from the UK. Furthermore, while Australia has some low skilled migration routes, most work migration is skilled, whereas a much larger component of economic migration to the UK is low skilled, mainly coming from the EU.

“The Australian system is highly regarded because the Australians can identify and accurately record those who arrive and depart and they have achieved effective control of their borders. Neither depends on their points-based system. These are, of course, important objectives for the UK but we face very different geographical and political circumstances,” it concludes.

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