• Brexit immigration rules 'threat to NI'

    Proposed immigration rules after Brexit "risk causing significant harm" to NI businesses, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has said.

    The government is currently consulting on a minimum salary requirement of £30,000 for foreign workers seeking five-year visas.

    The CBI said firms could face "severe difficulties" getting staff.

    Some sectors in NI are heavily dependant on workers from Europe, such as food and drink manufacturing.

    The average private sector wage in Northern Ireland is £22,000 and the CBI said 71% of all workers in the region earn below £30,000.

    The CBI's Northern Ireland director Angela McGowan said: "Our agri-industry, hospitals, house builders and retailers are examples of major employers already struggling to find the people they need at salaries well below £30,000.

    "Installing further barriers via these proposals will make Northern Ireland poorer."

    'Transitional measure'

    The government is proposing the biggest shake-up of immigration policy for 40 years, with the ending of free movement from Europe a key part of Brexit.

    It has said lower-skilled and unskilled migrants will not routinely be able to come to the UK and settle permanently.

    However, as a "transitional measure", people from "low-risk countries" in Europe and further afield will be able to come to the UK without a job offer and seek work for up to a year.

    Before it collapsed, the Northern Ireland Executive's initial response to Brexit in 2016 called for a policy that was flexible enough to allow access to "unskilled as well as highly-skilled labour".

    However, last September the Migration Advisory Committee, which advises government, said Northern Ireland should not have a separate immigration regime after Brexit.

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