Priti Patel said only skilled, English-speaking workers will be welcome after Brexit.
The new home secretary has rolled out plans for a new point-based immigration system when Britain leaves the European Union.
She said decisions would be based on what someone can contribute rather than where they come from and pledged that she would be “tougher on those who abuse our hospitality”.
“We’ll give top priority to those with the highest skills and the greatest talents — to attract who add the most value to our economy.
“Those skilled workers will only be able to come here if they have a job offer from an employer registered with the Home Office and if they can speak English.”
But people have been quick to point out the potential shortcomings of the policy.
If EU countries such as Spain and France adopted the same stance millions of British expats could be in danger of being returned back home.
A recent study, carried out by the European Commission for the European Day of Languages, found people from the United Kingdom are ranked as the least likely to speak another language.
On average, almost two-thirds of EU citizens said they could speak at least one foreign language, but the just 34 per cent of Brits can say the same.
At the other end of the scale, a total of 97 per cent of people Sweden and 96 per cent of those living in Latvia, Denmark and Lithuania say they can speak a foreign language.
Knowledge of at least three foreign languages was also high in Finland, where 45 per cent can do so.