British companies will be discouraged from employing cheap labour from the EU under post-immigration plans unveiled by the government.
The Home Office said these workers may not get visas and that companies would instead be encouraged to train their own workers and develop more automation.
EU and non-EU citizens coming to the UK would be treated equally after free movement ends on 31 December but they will need to accumulate “points”.
They will need at least 70 points to work in Britain, with points awarded for speaking English.
All migrants will need to earn at least £25,600 a year and must hold an offer for a job that meets the ‘skills test’.
However, the minimum salary is flexible which means an applicant could earn as little as £20,480 a year if they meet other criteria, such as filling a job where there are shortages.
All successful migrants will still be entitled to bring dependant relatives with them.
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Labour described the plan as “hostile” and likely to lead to shortages. The construction industry relies on three million overseas workers. Hospitality, health, and agriculture also hire large numbers of immigrants.
SNP immigration spokesman Stuart McDonald MP described it as a “disastrous one-size-fits-no-one policy that poses a very real threat to Scotland and leaves businesses and the public with just 10 months to prepare for it”.
He said: “Instead of a much-vaunted new ‘Australian Points Based System’, they’ve simply tweaked the failed policies of the past.
“Free movement is about the only bit of the UK migration system that works well – we should retain it, not scrap it. Ending it will be bad for business and bad for the economy, and risks putting the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of EU citizens in jeopardy.”