Author: Ray Clancy
While the visa programme in the UK that will be in place immediately after Brexit is still unclear as Parliament fails to agree what the overall deal should be, the British Government has begun seeking views on the country’s future immigration system.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid has announced that over 2019 the Government is engaging across the UK and internationally to listen to the views of a range of stakeholders, to shape the future immigration system.
The information from business, employers and education as well as those in the public, voluntary and private sectors, will influence the new, skilled-based immigration system that Ministers want to replace the current freedom of movement programme.
He said that the future system will support a dynamic economy in line with the UK’s Industrial Strategy which aims for a skilled, innovative and highly productive workforce. ‘We will have full control of migration to serve the national interest, and to enable those who come to the UK to integrate and make a positive contribution to the economy and society,’ he added.
The aim is to gather views on specific details before the final policy is agreed and the information gathering will include a series of events and consultation with advisory groups.
Unless Brexit is postponed for a long period, the plan is to introduce the new immigration system in a phased approach from January 2021.
The Government has already announced that the immigration system will introduce a new route for skilled workers which favours experience and talent over nationality. It will enable employers to have access to the skills they need from around the world, while ensuring net migration is reduced to sustainable levels.
The plans are in line with the recommendations made by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to remove the annual cap on the number of work visas issued, widen the skills threshold to include people with qualifications equivalent of A levels and end the requirements for labour market tests by employers wanting to sponsor a worker.
It will amount to the biggest change in the British immigration system in a generation as it takes a skills-based approach with the aim of attracting the brightest and best immigrants to the UK.
There is also likely to be a new route for workers at any skill level for a temporary period. The aim is to allow all businesses to have the staff they need as the country moves to the new immigration system, but ensure there is an incentive to train young people in the future.
The 12-month visa will provide access to the labour market, but no access to benefits. People arriving on this route will not be able to bring family members with them, won’t accrue rights to settle in the UK and will have a 12-month cooling off period once their visa expires. These proposals will be discussed with businesses as part of the extensive engagement programme.
The White Paper proposals will also ensure there is no limit on the number of genuine international students, who can come to the UK to study. Proposals extend the time they can stay post study to find employment to six months for those who have completed a bachelor’s or master’s degree and 12 months for those who have completed a PhD.
There will also be new measures to improve border security checks and support a frictionless flow of legitimate passengers’ checks. This will end the use national ID cards as a form of travel documentation for European Union citizens as soon as is practicable, given these documents are more insecure and open to abuse than passports.
There will also be an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme to allow vital information to be collected at an earlier stage before visitors, who does not require a visa, travel. This will give visitors greater certainty that they will be able to enter the UK on arrival, allowing citizens from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, USA, Singapore and South Korea to use e-gates to pass through the border on arrival, alongside EU and UK citizens.