A post Brexit immigration system in the UK should clamp down on low skilled workers from the European Union but the nation will still need a positive policy for students and tourists, according to a new report.

People looking to move abroad to work, live and study are facing huge change in terms of immigration and visas, led by policy changes in the US, Australia and the UK.

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But the future of immigration in the UK is perhaps one of the most uncertain and involves the future of hundreds of thousands of expats both in Britain and the EU.

Now a new report from David Goodhart, head of demography, immigration and integration at centre-right think tank the Policy Exchange, calls for a customised ‘light touch’ work permit system for EU professionals.

It also suggests that as Britain weans itself off low skilled migration there should be priority for low skilled workers ready to work antisocial hours, thereby acting more as complements than direct competitors to the British workforce.

The paper argues that to deliver on Brexit, future immigration policy must bear down on low skilled migration but openness and continuity should prevail in other areas. Visa free travel should continue for short visits from the EU and conditions should remain broadly the same for tourists and students, including the same tuition fee arrangements for EU as for UK students.

It suggests that three new temporary channels should be introduced: extending the youth mobility scheme which lets 18 to 30 year olds from countries like Australia and New Zealand to work in the UK for two years to young EU citizens; reviving the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme for agriculture and horticulture and extending the intra company transfer scheme to EU companies.

It supports the idea of EU citizens coming to the UK for employment needing work permits, with five years for professionals and two years for low skilled workers. However, low skilled workers ready to apply for antisocial hours visas should be given priority with approval given quickly, in less than a month.

‘A Brexit without a clear end to free movement in its current form is neither possible nor desirable as it was clearly one of the biggest single factors behind the Brexit vote,’ said Goodhart.

‘One of the problems with freedom of movement is that it has created a new category of resident: someone who is neither a temporary visitor, such as a tourist, nor someone who is making a permanent commitment to a new country in the manner of the traditional immigrant. Many of those taking advantage of free movement in recent years have enjoyed the rights of the latter with the attitude of the former,’ he explained.

‘Whilst we welcome an end to freedom of movement, a good post-Brexit immigration deal should maintain a lot of continuity in the movement of people, especially for students and professionals, and we can open up several new temporary work routes. There’s no reason for arrangements to change around tourists and students from the EU, but we do need to see a general reduction in the number of low skilled workers,’ he pointed out.

‘The Government, in partnership with industry and the Migration Advisory Committee, needs to set out how they will gradually reduce low skilled immigration from the EU, whilst maintaining a route for workers coming to do jobs with antisocial hours,’ he added.