Britain is “ready to welcome the best and the brightest global talent”, Home Secretary Priti Patel has said, as she prepares to unveil more details of her post-Brexit immigration plan.
The new system is set to come into force on New Year’s Day, immediately ending freedom of movement with the EU.
The government wants to bring in a “points-based” immigration system which would reward high-skilled workers.
Labour said it could cause “major problems” for the NHS and care sector.
Under the government’s plan, those wishing to live and work in the UK must gain 70 points.
Points would be awarded for criteria such as having a job offer, holding a PhD relevant to the job, speaking English and earning more than £22,000.
Those with job offers in “shortage occupations” such as nursing and civil engineering would also be able to earn extra points.
The government will also introduce a health and care visa for health sector workers coming to the UK, while international students will be able to stay in the country for a minimum of two years after finishing their studies.
Ms Patel said: “The British people voted to take back control of our borders and introduce a new points-based immigration system.
“Now we have left the EU, we are free to unleash this country’s full potential and implement the changes we need to restore trust in the immigration system and deliver a new fairer, firmer, skills-led system from 1 January 2021.”
Labour shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said: “We will scrutinise the proposals on visas very carefully. The government has rushed through immigration legislation with very little detail in the middle of a global pandemic.
“There are real concerns that this will cause major problems for our NHS and our care sector, at a time when we are still waiting for the government to make good on their promise to scrap the unfair immigration health surcharge for workers who were being charged to access the very services they were keeping going to help others during the toughest of times.”
On Sunday Ms Patel announced the UK and France had signed a deal on immigration and border management to establish a joint intelligence unit to “crack down on the gangs behind this vile people-smuggling operation”.
Speaking after a visit to Calais, she said: “Despite all of the action taken by law enforcement to date – intercepting the boats, making arrests, returning people to France and putting the criminals responsible behind bars – the numbers continue to increase.”
Her visit came as the government announced a £705m funding package to help manage Britain’s borders when the UK leaves the EU customs union at the end of the year.