New UK visa deal for Aussie workers

Written By komlim puldel on Selasa, 12 Agustus 2014 | 20.01

Visa overhaul in works ... Australians have been finding it hard to secure work in Great Britain. Picture: Supplied Source: News Corp Australia

MORE Australians could live and work in Great Britain under a new visa deal being thrashed out to reverse a "discriminatory" British Government immigration policy.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott was tipped to broach the issue during a visit to London today, but officials from both governments have confirmed work is being done on a form of compromise work visa to counter European Union laws that have forced the UK to slash the number of migrants it can take from outside the EU.

"It was an unintended consequence that restricts some including Australians but a compromise is being looked at from both the Australian and British ends," a government source confirmed.

News Corp Australia understands a draft is expected to be completed for review by a parliamentary committee by year's end before it goes to parliament.

In London ... Prime Minister Tony Abbott arrives at Cabinet Office. Picture: Ella Pellegrini Source: TheAustralian

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The change in policy about two years ago that caps at 20,000 skilled workers allowed in to the UK from outside the EU, has contributed to a more than 50 per cent drop in the number of Aussies coming to Britain to work.

Since they can't stop the flow of European citizens coming to the UK, British authorities have restricted migration from other nations.

The British Government has flagged concerns that if it makes an exception for Australia it would have to make exceptions for other Commonwealth nations particularly but Australia is pleading to be placed in a separate new migration category given its special status and relationship.

Newly appointed Australian High Commissioner to the UK Alexander Downer has already held high-level talks with British MPs from the Foreign Office about the migration downturn as well as how strict it is to enter the UK for Aussies despite Australia's chip-pin passport security being one of the best in the world.

Mr Abbott has already raised the issue with London Mayor Boris Johnson who has publicly branded the current visa system as discriminating against Australians and is lobbying Tory counterparts notably Prime Minister David Cameron for change.

British Minister for Business Vince Cable has also described as "deeply worrying" the plunge in highly skilled workers to the UK from outside the EU.

Mr Abbott yesterday was expected to meet with senior British Cabinet ministers including Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Philip Hammond. On the agenda also is expected to be the crisis in the Middle East including Iraq and the Islamic State terror and Gaza as well as sanctions against Russia over its indirect involvement with the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 with the death of 298 people including up to 38 Australian residents.

Before arriving in London, Mr Abbott was in the Netherlands meeting with counterpart Mark Rutte over the latter issue.

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