Posted by Richard Woodman, Partner
10 things we (might) know about the post-Brexit immigration system
Prime Minister Theresa May and Home Secretary Sajid Javid have given their strong support to the recommendations of the MAC report at the Tory Party Conference. Whilst subject to negotiation, here are 10 things that are highly likely to appear in the long-awaited White Paper to be published this autumn.
1) EU free movement will come to an end
The Government pledged to end free movement of people under EU law following the referendum. A new ‘unified’ visa system will be introduced to give the UK control of its borders.
2) No priority for EU nationals
The Government agrees there should be a level playing field between EU and international workers who want to work in the UK. Employers will have to sponsor EU nationals who want to live and work in the UK (if they don’t qualify for Settled Status) in the same way they sponsor international talent. The MAC concluded that there was no justification for EU nationals to have preferential access to work in the UK. The Prime Minister confirmed she intends to create one unified system for all migrants wanting to work in the UK.
3) Highly and medium skilled talent will be prioritised
The new system will be “skills-based”. Employers will have to sponsor workers from outside the UK, and visas will only be issued to migrants who can demonstrate they are taking up a highly or medium-skilled role with an annual salary of at least £30,000. The new system will be very similar to the current points-based system, amending and extending the rules for Tier 2 visas. The Government wants employers to have better access to talent around the world and in Europe.
4) The Tier 2 cap is likely to be scrapped
The Government supports scrapping the annual and monthly quotas in relation to Tier 2 visas which has caused considerable problems over the past 9 months for professionals including doctors and nurses wishing to work in the UK.
5) Salary thresholds will remain and the Resident Labour Market Test is likely to be abolished
The Government is in favour of salary thresholds for roles and there has been some support for abolishing the Resident Labour Market Test which employers have to undertake before giving a job to a migrant.
6) No separate visa route for low skilled work
The Government agrees there is no need for low skilled visa for workers from outside the UK. The Prime Minister said there will be no special exemptions for low-skilled workers other than for seasonal agricultural workers, for which a pilot is currently underway. Whilst some industries may be affected, there will be more incentive to train up British and settled workers to do these roles. The plans are causing alarm in the social care sector which is struggling to meet service needs of a booming elderly population.
7) The Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme is likely to be extended
The Government is likely to extend the Tier 5 Youth Mobility visa to European countries in the hope that these nationals would plug any gap in low skill sectors in the UK, for example packers and warehouse workers.
This visa allows people aged up to 30 from a select group of countries to work in the UK for two years.
Some changes to the visa route would be necessary to assist industries which rely on seasonal workers, including retail and hospitality.
8) UK nationals will have to apply online before visiting the continent
UK citizens may have to pay a fee and apply online to travel to Europe even if a full visa will not be necessary. The same rules will be implemented for EU nationals who want to visit the UK on holiday.
9) New English languages and British Values tests for migrants
The Government will introduce a new Values Test for migrants wishing to live permanently in the country. The current Life in UK Test has been dismissed as a pub quiz. It also wants to improve the standard of English of migrants. According to statistics, some 700,000 migrants living in the UK can’t speak English.
10) Some of the above may be traded away…
Both sides are weary of a no deal and there are likely to be “mobility concessions” to get a Brexit deal.
The Brexit negotiations may result in significant concessions to the European Union on immigration rights for its citizens, and even the transition period requires EU agreement. A month is also a long time in politics — and the Prime Minister may well be kicked out of her job by Boris Johnson or indeed Jeremy Corbyn.
Our Business Immigration team keeps a close eye on the progress on Brexit negotiations and provides tailored advice on immigration issues and the implications of Brexit on employers and employees. For expert advice, please contact our Business Immigration specialist Helen Murphie:
020 7842 1434 Email us
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