Priti Patel has said it is “right” that people should speak English before moving to work in the UK.
The Home Secretary, speaking before an announcement on the UK’s post-Brexit immigration plan, said the policy is back under control for the “first time in decades”.
On a visit to Imperial College in London on Tuesday, Ms Patel said those seeking to come to the country should have a sponsored route either through employment or an offer from an academic institution.
Ms Patel said: "We're being very clear about this - this is a system that puts the British Government in control of its immigration policy for the first time in decades.
Asked whether those who have an offer from an academic institution, but cannot speak English, would still be able to come to the UK, she said: "And, yes, it is right that people should speak English before they come to our country, that they should have a sponsored route, whether it's through employment or a sponsored route through an academic institution."
The Government's post-Brexit immigration system has come under fire as industry leaders warned it could spell an “absolute disaster” for businesses.
Labour also criticised the plan, with Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott saying it will need so many exemptions that the changes are “meaningless”.
The new rules seek to lower the salary threshold for skilled migrants from £30,000 to £25,600 for those coming to the UK with a job offer.
However, the Government said that if the applicant earns less than the required minimum salary threshold - but no less than £20,480 - they may still be able to enter if they have a job offer in a specific shortage occupation or if they have a PhD relevant to the job. There will not be a visa option for low-skilled migrant workers.
Ms Patel was also asked what assurances could be given to those already living in the UK who do not meet the thresholds outlined in the plan.
She said: "Well, I think first and foremost we have a number of routes and importantly we have the EU Settlement Scheme.
"It's important to recognise this is the biggest scheme of this nature that the British Government has operated and we've obviously had a huge number of registrations - over 3.2 million applications - giving EU citizens their settled status in the United Kingdom, them and their families, so that they continue to live and to work and to contribute to our country, which is a great thing and it shows that we are open, we're positive, we're open for business, but I think importantly we are open to the world and that is effectively what our points-based system will achieve for our country."