Learning from the Australian points-based immigration system

Published on
8 min read

Mills & Reeve’s head of immigration Alex Russell joins forces with Kristopher Kunasingam, head of migration at Australian firm Hall & Wilcox to explore what the UK Government can learn from Australia when designing its post-Brexit immigration regime.

Why is the UK looking to Australia?

The UK left the EU on 31 January 2020.  The Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and the EU provides for a transition period until 31 December 2020, during which existing EU free move movement rules will remain in force.  There should be no material change to the right of EU nationals to move, to live and work in the UK during the transition period.  

The Government has confirmed that it is committed to ending freedom of movement from 1 January 2021.  It has indicated that it intends to implement a points-based system with consistent rules for all potential immigrants, regardless of nationality. In the Queen’s speech on 19 December 2019, the Government announced that it would be bringing forward an Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill. Among other things, the Government promised that this would deliver ‘a new Australian-style points-based immigration system’ which would enable it to deliver ‘a single global immigration system based on people’s skills’.

To understand what this commitment is likely to mean in practice, we look first at how the Australian system currently works and then explore the extent to which it is likely to be replicated in the UK, taking account of the recently published report by the UK Migration Advisory Committee (MAC).

The Australian skilled migration programme

The UK perspective

Authors’ contact details

Alex Russell                                                
Principal Associate and Head of Immigration                 
Mills & Reeve LLP                                                        

Kristopher Kunasingam
Special Counsel and Head of Migration
Hall & Wilcox


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