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Government proposals announced for new immigration system following Brexit

21 December 2018

The Government has published its long awaited White Paper, outlining its proposals for a new immigration system following Brexit.

As expected, the paper implements the Migration Advisory Committee recommendations that we recently reported on. Essentially, it is proposed that the free movement of workers from within the EU will end and that one immigration system will apply to all nationalities, which gives priority to skilled workers and those in shortage occupations.

The paper is wide ranging and covers many issues including students, mobility, compliance, visitors and border security.

The full outline can be found here but, for now, here are some of the key headlines for employers which are worthy of note:

  • introduction of a requirement to obtain a Licence to Sponsor for all those employers who want to recruit skilled workers
  • scrapping the current annual cap on the number of skilled workers coming to the UK
  • consulting stakeholders on the current minimum salary requirement of £30,000 for skilled workers
  • introduction of a temporary short-term visa (with no requirement for sponsorship) for low skilled workers of up to one year, with a one-year cooling off period before they are permitted to return to the UK.  Such workers will be able to move between employers.  This will be in place to enable business to adapt to the wider changes
  • lowering the skills threshold to include roles at RQF 3-5
  • removing the requirement on employers to conduct a Resident Labour Market Test
  • no route available for lower skilled workers
  • introduction of a pilot scheme for agricultural workers in 2019. There are currently no plans for any exceptions for other sectors
  • review of the administrative burdens for Sponsors to immigration abuse is reduced but that sponsorship is less costly and more straightforward
  • consulting with the EU on mobility, including no visa requirement for short term visits by EEA nationals; exploring the arrangements  for research, study, training and youth exchanges, with a suggestion that the current youth mobility arrangements could be extended to other specified countries)
  • the Migration Advisory Committee will consult on the Shortage Occupation List, with a report expected in Spring 2019
  • the Immigration Skills Charge will be retained but reviewed.

We do not yet know for certain when these proposals will be implemented but, given that they have been announced just 14 weeks before we are due to leave the EU, we expect that it will take some time to plan/legislate for and that it will be done in phases at some point following the Implementation Period (currently due to run until 31 December 2020).

Those eligible to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme would therefore be well advised to apply for settled/pre-settled status as soon as the scheme opens more fully.  It was announced yesterday that this Scheme will now open to those with a valid passport on 21 January 2019.

We will of course keep you updated as plans develop.

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