There will be no visas for workers who are considered low-skilled after Brexit under new immigration plans.
In a policy statement on the UK's points-based immigration system, measures are to be introduced to encourage employers to move away from "cheap labour" from Europe.
It said: "From 1 January 2021, EU and non-EU citizens will be treated equally. We will reduce overall levels of migration and give top priority to those with the highest skills and the greatest talents: scientists, engineers, academics and other highly-skilled workers."
Free movement will be replaced by a points-based system that assesses potential workers on qualifications, the salary on offer and whether they intend to work in a sector with shortages. Applicants will need 70 points, with points earned for a job offer from an approved sponsor, a salary above £23,040, the need for workers in the given sector and qualifications. They will also need to have meet a required level of English language skills.
The policy statement added: "UK businesses will need to adapt and adjust to the end of free movement, and we will not seek to recreate the outcomes from free movement within the points-based system. As such, it is important that employers move away from a reliance on the UK’s immigration system as an alternative to investment in staff retention, productivity, and wider investment in technology and automation."
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said the plans would have a significant impact on hospitality. She said: "“Ruling out a temporary, low-skilled route for migration in just 10 months’ time will be disastrous for the hospitality sector and the British people. Business must be given time to adapt.
“These proposals will cut off future growth and expansion and deter investment in Britain’s high streets. It will lead to reduced levels of service for customers and business closures. Hospitality is already facing an acute labour shortage, despite investing significantly in skills, training and increasing apprenticeships for the domestic workforce. We are facing record low levels of unemployment, a dip in young people entering the labour market and have the highest vacancy levels of any sector.
“This announcement fails to recognise that hospitality is at the heart of every community in the UK. Damaging the hospitality sector will have a knock-on effect for schoolchildren and the elderly who rely on the sector for their meals. The Government says it is making allowances for staff in the NHS, but it has totally ignored the catering companies who supply the meals to patients and staff.
“We understand the Government’s desire to deliver on the referendum result and its aim of moving to a skills-based immigration system. We fully support the ambition to upskill the domestic population and provide opportunities for people in every part of the UK. These proposals fail to deliver on the Government’s own objective of providing an immigration system which works for the UK’s economy and its people.”
The new immigration system is set to be introduced on 1 January 2021.