Immigration after Brexit
For many of us, today is tinged with sadness as the United Kingdom leaves the European Union at 11pm tonight. For others it is of course, great cause for celebration.
Immigration played a significant role in the outcome of the referendum and one of the arguments for leaving the EU was the idea that the UK should be able to control its borders. But what is the position in terms of immigration law now and what is likely to happen in the future? I have set out below what we know so far.
Although the government is understandably not keen to publicise this, during the transition period that is in place up until 30 December 2020, EU free movement law continues and all EU citizens have the same rights to enter the UK, reside here and work as they did when the UK was in the European Union.
However, European citizens and their family members, or anybody who currently resides in the UK on the basis of European law and wants to remain here, needs to register under the European Settlement Scheme. The government expects people to have applied by 30 June 2021. We are however urging people to do it by the end of this year, as currently it is unclear on what legal basis these people will be able to remain in the UK from December 2020 onwards if they have not registered on the Settlement Scheme.
Global Talent Visa
Boris Johnson has announced a new Global Talent visa for which people will be able to apply for from 20 February onwards. The aim is to ensure that highly skilled people, and particularly scientists, have a smooth entry route to the UK to carry out research in the fields of science and medicine. It also though encompasses people who have digital technical or engineering expertise, academics, and those who are leaders in the arts and culture.
‘Australian style’ points based system – the future immigration scheme
Finally this week, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) issued its 272 page report that was commissioned by the government setting out where it sees the priorities for the immigration scheme that will come into force in January 2021.
Despite the government heavily trailing an ‘Australian style’ points based system, the MAC has been much more conservative and has recommended that the current Tier 2 (employer sponsored worker) scheme stays in place with some modifications, The main proposal is to reduce the salary threshold to £25600 (from £30000) . The MAC though has not endorsed regional differentiations in salary levels despite the well recognised disparities in pay throughout the United Kingdom.
The MAC was also not as enthused as the government about a points based system. Although it grapples with the idea, it suggests a relatively restrictive approach for highly skilled workers only. It envisages awarding points for characteristics such as qualifications, age, English language skills and for priority sectors of the job market.
It remains to be seen how the government will respond and what they will be put in place. What we do know is that the new immigration system will have to address the loss of free movement of people from Europe with all the benefits this has provided for employers, such as flexibility and easy access to all skill levels of labour. Getting the new immigration system right for the United Kingdom will be no small task!
If you require advice on the EU settlement scheme or the new global talent visa, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or on +44 20 7401 6887.