Does the implementation of an Australian-style points-based system guarantee reducing net migration? - | Hudson McKenzie

Does the implementation of an Australian-style points-based system guarantee reducing net migration?

June 10, 2016 | Immigration, Latest Thinking

In recent weeks, the idea of Britain adopting a points based system similar to that of Australia has come to light, with many ‘Brexiteers’ and ‘Brexit’ campaign leaders applauding the system. If Britain were to leave the EU, it is of widely popular belief that the Australian points based system, or one similar to it should be adopted. This would have a vast impact on immigration processes and completely change the system as we know it.

As it stands, within Europe, there is ‘Freedom of movement’ for work and living. This means that all EU nationals are able to live and work in any other member nations without having to conform to immigration rules and regulations that a particular nation may have.

What is the Australian points based system?

The Australian points based system is a term coined to explain the Australian immigration process. As it states, the process relies on applicants obtaining points in different categories in order to successfully gain access to a work Visa. The categories are as follows

  • Years of work experience: 1-3 years, 3-5 years, 5-8 years, 8-10 years
  • Age: 18-24, 25-32, 33-39, 40-44
  • English Level: Superior or Proficient
  • Education: Doctorate, Degree or Diploma

The amount of points also varies depending on where you fit within that category. For example, if you are between the ages 25 and 32 you can obtain 30 points. Similarly, if you have 8 to 10 years work experience you can gain an additional 20 points. You need have a total of 60 points in order to be able to apply for a work Visa.

Don’t we already have something similar?

Yes, the United Kingdom does in fact have a somewhat similar system to that of Australia. To be more precise, we have a points based system for those coming from outside the European Union and the European Economic Area. The current system has 4 tiers:

  • Tier 1: Investor, Entrepreneur, Exceptional Talent
  • Tier 2: Skilled workers – This tier has various sub categories
  • Tier 4: Students
  • Tier 5: Temporary workers and Youth mobility

All those applying within any of the four tiers have to obtain a certain number of points. The exact details of how many points are needed and the criteria varies depending on which Tier someone is applying for. Some examples of the criteria for those who are not citizens of the European union are, English level, Salary and Certificates, such as those from a degree.

This system has allowed Britain to become selective over those who wish to apply for Entry Clearance to the UK.

How could it impact?

Having an Australian style immigration system and attitude towards immigration would have a huge impact on our society. To this date, Britain has been built by both migrant workers and the British people. Having a system like the Australian one would severely impact the British economy and future development. It is true, however, that as this system has not yet been implemented within this country, it is impossible to know whether this change would be beneficial or a hindrance. We can however make predictions of what the pro’s and con’s may be.

Pro’s and Con’s


  • Britain would have a higher control over its borders
  • The government could be more selective over who can migrate to the UK
  • It would allow more employment targeted immigration: The increase in control over the borders could mean that the UK Government would be able to select which immigrants came in. This could be increasingly useful when there is a lack of workers in a certain sector.


  • The United Kingdom has relied on immigrants from the EEA to fulfil the gaps in the employability market, such as construction workers, plumbers as well as higher paid jobs. If a replica of the Australian system was implemented, then it would be increasingly difficult to fulfil the high demand as not all the workers would meet the necessary criteria.
  • Many claim that Australia’s immigration policies and extreme border control is a breach of human rights, particularly their zero tolerance to asylum seekers and refugees coming in from boats. The Australian government have been known to use their navy to turn away even those that have refugee status. Is this something that we really want to emulate?
  • One of the main reasons to obtain this system is that it would supposedly reduce immigration. However, studies have shown that this has not been the case in Australia. The Telegraph reported that despite Australia being two thirds of the size of the UK, its net migration number has in recent years been similar to the UK and in some cases even higher.
  • While it may give greater control over British borders, it would also have a huge impact on those who are British and working in Europe. Many of which would have to apply for Visas. There could also be language restrictions based on British Nationals, meaning that they would have to be competent, proficient or superior in the language of the country they wish to work abroad in.

The Migration Observatory concludes that there is enormous uncertainty over what immigration policy would look like outside the EU: “What is clear is that if free movement came to an end, the task of designing a new immigration system would be hugely complex.

“Fundamental questions such as whether and how to satisfy demand for migrant labour in low and middle-skilled jobs, as well as how to manage trade-offs between the costs and benefits of different types of migration, would need to be resolved,” say the migration experts.