Chuka Ummuna, a British member of parliament has urged the decision-makers in the British government to use Canada’s immigration system when developing the country’s immigration policies after Brexit.
In a recent opinion post, Mr. Ummuna wrote that “there’s a lot we can learn from our Canadian counterparts, their communities are far more integrated and cohesive yet they have seen both historic and faster recent immigration levels”.
Before the referendum in June, where the British public voted to leave the European Union, the main point of discussion was the future of the UK’s immigration policy. During the early part of discussions for the UK’s exit from the EU, there was no clear strategy in place for possible changes to the immigration regulations in the country.
The immigration policy was hugely debated during the Brexit discussions, as leaders of the Leave movement (those pushing to leave the EU), were of the view that there should be more control over the UK’s immigration policy.
Regional Dispersal Immigrants is Key to Immigration
Ummuna highlighted the effort of Canada’s government to make sure that immigrants are evenly distributed across the country as one of the main points why immigrants are able to settle in and integrate quickly. “For example, regions and towns in British Columbia have been supported and encouraged to design and launch ‘welcoming communities’ initiatives.
Ummuna also noted that the British government has yet to introduce a similar policy to promote regional dispersal of immigrants. As a result, Ummuna noted that migrants settle in major urban centers, especially in London, which according to the Office of National Statistics UK (ONS) is home to over a third of migrants in the UK.
Points based system: A comparison
The UK has a point’s based system for non-EU immigration and has been described as comparable to that of Canada, by Mr. Ummuna. The Prime minister of the UK, Theresa May has however confirmed that there will be no points-based immigration system for EU members who want to move to the UK when it leaves the EU. Under the EU, citizens of EU countries are allowed free movement within its member states, however, after leaving the EU, this freedom of movement will become more restricted.
This September, it was announced by the Prime ministers spoke person that “the precise way in which the government will control the movement of EU nationals to Britain after Brexit has yet to be determined. However, the PM has always said the points-based immigration system will not work and is not an option”.
Mr. Ummuna went further to say, “our progressive partners in Canada demonstrate some useful lessons to the UK, showing that migration can pose challenges, but this should not be the case if you implement the right policies to manage it”.
Overall, the points based system is designed to encourage the selection of skilled immigrants who are likely to settle and integrate in the country that has received them. Canadian immigration programs are set up in a way that particular occupations are privileged during the selection process in order to respond to labor market needs in the country.