The New UK Immigration System After Brexit
On the 28 January 2020 the government announced that it would be introducing a new points-based Immigration system from 2021. The government says it will provide more information about the new points-based immigration system as it becomes available. This government announcement follows on from the release of the latest Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) report on the 28 January 2020. The government stated that it is currently considering the report and its recommendations before setting out the details of the UK post Brexit Immigration system.
UK Immigration solicitors
Central London based OTS Solicitors help individuals and companies with all aspects of personal and business immigration law providing the best Immigration outcomes and Brexit solutions. If you have questions about how Brexit and the new UK Immigration system will affect you or your business call us on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form.
The Brexit timeline and EU nationals
First and foremost, the government has said that there will be no change to the rights and status of EU citizens currently living in the UK until the 30 June 2021.
At present EU citizens and their families can either apply for:
• Settled Status under the EU Settlement Scheme or
• Pre-settled Status under the EU Settlement Scheme.
The Migration Advisory Committee report
The independent Migration Advisory Committee has provided the government with detailed recommendations for a post Brexit Immigration system but the report does not go as far as recommending a full Australian style points-based Immigration system to replace the free movement of EU citizens and the reform the current UK Immigration system.
Instead the MAC report recommends a mixed system of:
• A minimum salary threshold for people coming to the UK with a job offer and
• A points-based system for people coming to the UK without a job offer.
Importantly, with the end of free movement, the new Immigration system would apply to both EU and non-EEA citizens looking to settle in the UK after Brexit and the conclusion of the Brexit transition period.
Will the MAC report be followed by the government?
All Immigration solicitors can do is speculate, in much the same way as everyone else. What we can say is that the government is not under an obligation to follow the MAC report recommendations although the government normally carefully considers the research on which MAC reports are based.
What is an Australian points based Immigration system?
The prime minister and the home secretary have both spoken about the planned introduction of an Australian style points-based Immigration system after Brexit. However, the MAC report does not go as far as recommending the Australian Immigration system for use in the UK.
In essence, an Australian style points-based Immigration system allocates points to an applicant for different characteristics. For example, you could be allocated one hundred points for possessing a particular qualification that is in short supply. The current UK Immigration system places more emphasis on an applicant having a job to come to as a result of an employer sponsoring them under a Certificate of Sponsorship and a Tier 2 (General) visa.
If the UK were to adopt a more points based system (the current UK Immigration system already uses points) then the points system would not have to follow the Australian model and could be adapted to meet the Immigration needs of the UK or, as the MAC report proposes, there could be a combined system of work visas and points system.
The MAC report recommendations
The MAC report is detailed but the main recommendations include:
• Keeping the Tier 2 (General) skilled worker visa and using a mix of skill eligibility and salary threshold but reducing the proposed minimum salary threshold to about £25,000, rather than the earlier MAC recommended salary of £30,000 a year
• Converting the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa into a points based visa for skilled individuals who want to enter the UK to work but who do not have an offer of Employment
• Any revised Tier 1 points-based visa would have an overall annual cap on those allowed to enter the UK and the route would operate on an ‘expression of interest basis’. There would be a pool created of people wanting to come to the UK with applicants drawn from the pool and then invited to make a full Immigration application. Those invited into the Tier 1 pool and invited to make a full Immigration application would be selected based on having the highest number of points in the pool using a points-based system that would enable the UK to attract the people it wants to attract and for whom the other visa routes (such as the Tier 2 (General) visa ) are not suitable
• Any Tier 2 (General) visa salary thresholds should apply across the UK but there should be a separate pilot visa for remote areas of the UK. This pilot could include a lower salary threshold for overseas workers in remote areas but there needs to be a full evaluation to understand the impact of such a pilot scheme prior to introduction
• Occupations on the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) should have the same salary thresholds for UK entry and there should be a review of whether the SOL is needed after the post Brexit Immigration system is brought in
• There should be a stop to the proposed increases to the settlement threshold and a review of the requirements for settlement to see if changes are needed.
So, in essence the MAC report is either, depending on your point of view, recommending a blended Australian points-based system with the current UK Immigration system or tweaks and refinements to the current UK Immigration system, which already includes a points based element.
For employers and EU nationals the ‘game changer’ will be the end of free movement for EU citizens wanting to live and work in the UK after Brexit and the need for EU nationals to follow the same Immigration systems and procedures as their non-EEA national counterparts.
For individuals caught up in Brexit and employers and indeed the general public it is a question of ‘watch this space’ as we await the government response to the MAC report. Will the government plough on with a fully points based Immigration system that is identical to the Australian model or carve out something that is unique to the UK?
The individual and employer feedback received by many immigration solicitors is that whatever the new UK Immigration system what employers and employees want is an end to the uncertainty and an Immigration system that is both simplified and fit for purpose.
At central London OTS Solicitors the Brexit team of specialist Settled Status solicitors and Immigration lawyers advise on your best Brexit options and provide a same day Settled Status service. Call us on 0203 959 9123
Alternatively, if you are concerned about your business and Brexit and how the planned new UK Immigration system will impact on your recruitment and expansion plans, our business immigration solicitors can make sure your business is ‘Brexit proofed’. For information on how OTS Solicitors can get you ready for Brexit call the Brexit team hotline on 0203 959 9123 or use our contact form.