UK Home Secretary Priti Patel has hailed the 'historic moment', but business groups in the North fear it will damage the economy there. So what does it all mean...
The UK Home Office has announced new rules that will govern who can work there. The rules are known as the 'global talent scheme'. The scheme means that visas will not be available to low-skilled migrant workers.
The new system is a direct result of Brexit. It is being launched by Home Secretary Priti Patel today. She said it would open up the UK to the "brightest and the best from around the world".
The Home Office also noted it will end free movement, "reassert control of our borders and restore public trust".
In a statement, it said the government had listened to the clear message from the 2016 referendum and the 2019 general election and will "end the reliance on cheap, low-skilled labour coming into the country".
It said overall levels of migration would be reduced and this will ensure tighter security and "a better experience" for those coming to the UK. Employers are to be encouraged to invest in technology and automation rather than cheap European labour.
No. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson assured Taoiseach Leo Varadkar last year that the common travel area will not be affected after Brexit.
This arrangement allows Irish and British citizens to move freely and live in either jurisdiction.
Business groups have condemned the changes as a body blow. There are fears they will have to compete with employers in the Republic where there is unfettered movement of workers within the EU.
The chief executive of Hospitality Ulster said the new system would severely hit the North which has been enjoying its lowest unemployment rate for a generation.
"Nobody wants to walk into one of our Irish bars and it's just a row of vending machines or a burger drops to your plate from somewhere," said Colin Neill.
"We need people. That's the bottom line. And if we don't get them, our industry will not grow."
It applies to EU and non-EU citizens.
It is a points-based system. This means you get points for specific skills and qualifications, salaries or professions in order to get a visa. Visas will only be given to those who gain enough points, with 70 the amount needed to be eligible to apply.
Those who want to get in will also need to be able to speak English.
For example, speaking English and the offer of a skilled job equals 50 points.
The scheme means those with the highest skills and greatest talents - including scientists, engineers and academics - will get top priority. The points threshold will be set to attract talent where there is demand for certain skills.
However, employers will have access to a bigger pool of skilled workers as they will need to be qualified up to 'A level' or equivalent rather than degree level, as is the case under the current visa system. All applicants will be required to have a job offer and the minimum salary threshold will be set at £25,600 - down from £30,000.
It is understood that certain types of agricultural worker will be removed from the 'skilled' category, but carpentry, plastering and child-minding will be added.
It takes effect from January 1, 2021. Workers from European Economic Area countries have the automatic right to live and work in the UK, but this ends on December 31 when the post-Brexit transition period ends.
"Today is a historic moment for the whole country," she said.
"We're ending free movement, taking back control of our borders and delivering on the people's priorities by introducing a new UK points-based immigration system, which will bring overall migration numbers down.
"We will attract the brightest and the best from around the globe, boosting the economy and our communities, and unleashing this country's full potential."
Some employers have warned that the changes could be an absolute disaster for the care system and there are fears that farmers, builders and hotels will be hardest hit.
The Confederation of British Industry warned that care, construction, hospitality, food and drink companies could be most affected by the changes.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon described the policy as offensive in a tweet. She said it labels vital workers as low skilled and slams the door in their faces. She said it is disastrous and will badly damage the UK economy.
The Home Office said student visa "routes" will also be points-based and opened to EU citizens. It said those wishing to study there will need to have an offer from an approved institution, be able to support themselves financially and speak English.
A seasonal workers' scheme will be expanded this year from 2,500 to 10,000 places in response to temporary requirements in agriculture.
EU citizens and others without visas will not need a visa to enter the UK if visiting for up to six months. The home office said the use of national identity cards is being phased out and plans relating to this will be announced.
EU citizens living in the UK by December 31 2020 can apply to settle there through an EU Settlement Scheme, which will run up until June 2021.