New regulations on skilled workers travelling to the United Kingdom could see thousands of Australians forced to leave the country.
According to a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade report obtained by News Corp, visa rules to be implemented next year would further tighten already strict requirements.
The Government previously indicated the “unique” bond between Australia and the UK would suffer “structural damage” from what it described as “discriminatory” immigration policies.
“The UK’s visa changes are making this country a less welcoming destination for Australians,” the Australian High Commission signed report stated.
“This potentially harms the UK’s image and reputation in Australia, and might even in the long term undermine the unique Australia-UK bond.”
There were 100 Australian businesses operating in the UK surveyed for the report.
More than half predicted the visa changes would impact on planned investment in the country, while two-thirds said it would “significantly impact their ability and willingness to recruit Australians”.
The upcoming changes would be extended to include intra-company transfers, spouses right to work and see levies implemented.
Last year, the Australian and UK governments sought a compromise on skilled worker restrictions that limited people travelling from countries outside the European Union for employment.
The restrictions were imposed in 2011 as a response to increased worker movement between EU nations, with some skilled worker visas closed and a cap of 20,000 positions for residents of countries outside the EU.
There was a more than 50 per cent drop in Aussie expat workers after the changes were implemented.
The Australian Government opposed the move, and sent a two-page document to UK authorities last month about the “significantly” great impact the proposed changes could have.
“[It has] the potential to adversely affect the commercial interests of both countries’ business and investors and consequently the economic interests of both Australia and the UK,” a letter signed by Australian High Commission Alexander Downer reads.
“We are also concerned it may have a longer term impact on the broader Australia-UK bilateral relationship.
“Recent history suggests we can be reasonably sure the coming changes will significantly affect Australians.”