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Work-permit proposals to be debated in States

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FORMAL proposals to introduce work permits for low-skilled migrant workers and criminal background checks for people coming to the Island will be debated by the next States Assembly.

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The Council of Ministers unveiled their new migration policy late last year but only formally lodged the plans for debate by Members recently.

It means that any decisions on the new population plans will not be decided until September – after the general election in May.

For years, the government has failed to hit net inward migration targets – set at 325 people per year – and criticism has been levelled at the States for failing to control the population.

Among the measures is a work-permit system for low-skilled and low-paid immigrant workers.

Under the system firms would be granted permits to employ seasonal or temporary workers for up to ten months.

Permits for up to four years would also be available if the work was year-round. When the four-year period expires, the worker would have no rights to work in the Island unless the firm could justify a significant need.

Members will also be asked to agree that annual net immigration over the next 20 years should, on average, be lower than it has been since 2001.

If approved in principle later this year, the law changes for the introduction of work permits would be lodged in January next year.

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Chief Minister Ian Gorst said: ‘Debating the policy later this year will provide more time for the UK’s new post-Brexit arrangements to become clearer, especially in relation to the future movement of European Economic Area nationals.

‘We have some very big decisions to make on immigration. I have outlined my desire to introduce work permits and criminal record checks in the context of Brexit. I want to do this while supporting local businesses. It is now for Islanders to consider these issues as part of the election, and for the new Assembly to decide how to respond to the views of the electorate.’

A preliminary Scrutiny review of the proposals has already been started.

Assistant Chief Minister Paul Routier added: ‘The new migration policy contains solid proposals that will deliver a sustainable balance for Jersey in the context of the Brexit changes. I have every confidence that a new States Assembly will carefully consider the issues as they debate the best approach for our Island.’

The proposition is due to be debated on Tuesday 11 September.

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