London: The UK on Tuesday unveiled plans to further its crackdown on immigration through "work and study routes" from non-EU nations, in a move expected to make it difficult for British firms to hire professionals from countries like India.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd told the annual Conservative Party conference in Birmingham she will be looking at a range of options to cut migration.
"Leaving the EU is just one part of the strategy. We have to look at all sources of immigration if we mean business... We will be looking across work and study routes. This will include examining whether we should tighten the test companies have to take before recruiting from abroad," Rudd said as she announced a new consultation on tightening immigration.
New rules are expected to make it tougher for British companies wanting to bring in foreign professionals from outside the EU, including countries like India.
"The test should ensure people coming here are filling gaps in the labour market, not taking jobs British people could do. But it's become a tick box exercise, allowing some firms to get away with not training local people.
"We won't win in the world if we don't do more to upskill our own workforce... I want us to look again at whether our immigration system provides the right incentives for businesses to invest in British workers," she said.
She also announced that from December, landlords that knowingly rent out property to people who have no right to be in the UK will be committing a criminal offence and could go to prison. Immigration checks will be a mandatory requirement for those wanting to get a licence to drive a taxi.
From next year, banks will have to do regular checks to ensure they are not providing essential banking services to illegal migrants.
The crackdown will affect students from India planning to study in the UK; their numbers are already at an all-time low.
"We will also look for the first time at whether our student immigration rules should be tailored to the quality of the course and the quality of the educational institution... We need to look at whether this one size fits all approach really is right for the hundreds of different universities, providing thousands of different courses across the country," the minister said.
However, she stressed that the new rules will be brought in after consultation with businesses and universities.
"This isn't about pulling up the drawbridge. It's about making sure students that come here, come to study. We're consulting because we want to work with businesses and universities to get this next stage of our reforms right," Rudd added.
For migration within the EU, the home minister unveiled plans to overhaul legislation to make it easier to deport criminals and those who abuse UK laws while Britain negotiates its complete exit from the economic bloc.