Migrants hoping to come to Britain could earn £4,400 less than the current threshold under plans outlined to the Government today.
Skilled foreigners from outside the EU wanting to work in the UK must have a job offering at least £30,000 a year, under the existing system.
But a shake-up recommended by the independent Migration Advisory Committee, published today, would see that slashed to £25,600.
Boris Johnson’s plans for an Australian-style points-based immigration regime should apply only to skilled workers without job offers, according to the committee.
“Talented individuals would register their interest in coming to the UK, with monthly invitations to apply drawn from this pool,” it says.
The committee believes the changes outlined in its 272-page report would cut net migration – slowing the rate of foreigners coming to the UK.
The overhaul would also lead to a slight boost to the Treasury and less pressure on vital public services including schools, hospitals and council houses.
However, it admits it would lead to more pressure on the crisis-hit social care system.
MAC chairman Professor Alan Manning said: “Our recommendations are likely to reduce future growth of the UK population and economy compared to freedom of movement, by using skill and salary thresholds.
“We estimate very small increases in GDP per capita and productivity, slightly improved public finances, slightly reduced pressures on the NHS, schools and on social housing, though slightly increased pressure on social care. “No perfect system exists and there are unavoidable, difficult trade-offs.
“The largest impacts will be in low-wage sectors and the Government needs to be clear about its plans for lower-skilled work migration.
“The Government should ensure the mistakes of previous UK points-based systems are not repeated.”
The MAC’s report suggests three routes for would-be migrants.
They are: a skilled worker route for entry with a job offer; a work route for entry without a job a offer; and for settlement.
The report sets out that economic growth would be slower under the revised system than if freedom of movement from the EU continued.
The committee expects the shake-up would “result in a lower level of immigration, a lower rate of growth in population, employment and GDP”.
The new system would not come into force until next January at the earliest.
The study was ordered in June last year and extended in September to take into account how a points-based system could work.
Many believe the 2016 Brexit vote to leave the EU was fuelled by record surges in immigration from the bloc through freedom of movement.
While EU nationals could come to the UK without job offers, stricter rules were meant to limit the numbers of non-EU citizens who could come to Britain – including an offer of a job paying at least £30,000 for those classed as skilled.
David Cameron promised in 2010 to cut annual net migration – the difference between numbers arriving and those leaving – below 100,000.
But the Conservatives have never come close to meeting the target over the last decade.
In the year to June, the figure was running at 212,000.
Mr Johnson quietly ditched the pledge after becoming Prime Minister last July.