AT-A-GLANCE: Everything you need to know about the post-Brexit immigration plan announced by Sajid Javid today

Posted On: 
19th December 2018

The Government today unveilled its long-delayed blueprint for how Britain will manage migration after leaving the EU. PoliticsHome has broken down the key points.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid in the House of Commons
Credit: 
PA Images

WHAT IS THE IMMIGRATION WHITE PAPER?

It is a 164-page document outlining how Britain plans to manage immigration from 2021 - after it has left the European Union and completed the Brexit transition period. 

The document precedes the introduction of the Immigration Bill on Thursday, as the Government moves to get its plans through parliament.

Many of the recommendations came from the independent Migration Advisory Committee, which this September released a report on the basis of many months of analysis.

WHAT ARE ITS THREE KEY PRINCIPLES?

Widely recognised as a major driver of the Leave vote, the Government vowed to end freedom of movement from the EU, with the same likely to apply to British citizens wanting to head to the continent. The Government is sticking to its policy of whittling migration down to the tens-of-thousands, although the document does not specifically layout how this would be achieved. 

The new plans mean Europeans who want to arrive and live in the UK after Brexit will have no special status. Those from the continent will need to meet the same conditions to live and work in Britain as someone from any other “low-risk country” – although the Government has yet to define that more clearly.

The new system will admit settlement in the UK based on skills, with the two new work routes being for “skilled” or “temporary short-term" workers.

HOW WILL IT AFFECT THOSE VISITING THE UK?

  • Tourists will be able to stay for a maximum of six months at a time, although they will be unable to work.
  • Anyone wishing to visit the UK will need permission to do so – with the exception of Irish nationals, as the Common Travel Area will remain in place.
  • European nationals should not need visas to travel, and the Government expects the EU to reciprocate that arrangement.
  • An Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme will be brought in for those who do not require visas – which ministers say will be a “simple online system” and “more light-touch”.
  • E-gates will continue to be used for low-risk individuals and nationalities to ensure smoother processes at the border
  • National Identity Cards will no longer be viable as a way of proving identity given their security flaws, and so visitors will need to provide a passport.

HOW WILL IT AFFECT EU NATIONALS ALREADY LIVING IN THE UK?

  • Those currently working in the UK will retain their rights after the end of the post-Brexit implementation period in 2021.
  • The Home Office says in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the Government’s priority will be to assure that the 3.5 million EU nationals have their status secured.

WHO QUALIFIES AS A “SKILLED” WORKER?

The current dual system, which allows workers from Europe of all skill-sets to enter and only those with high-skills from outside the EU will end and be replaced by a single route.

  • Ministers will scrap the current cap on the number of skilled workers such as doctors or engineers from the EU and elsewhere, but will apply a number of other conditions.
  • They will need to meet a salary threshold of £30,000 as it stands – however ministers will be consulting with business over the next year on whether this figure could be shifted.
  • A lower salary threshold will apply to those who have just graduated, as is currently the case for global admissions, while the “shortage occupation list” will be maintained to allow particularly sought after skills to work in the UK even if they earn less.
  • Skilled workers would be eligible for an initial five-year visa to work in the UK, alongside their dependents, and may be able to settle permanently.
  • Migrants from “low risk” countries will be able to move to Britain as a visitor and then change to a work visa if they find a skilled job in that time, as long as they have the required documentation.
  • They will need to be sponsored by a company, although ministers have insisted there will be measures brought in to simplify the system and reduce bureaucracy.
  • An “assessment of language skills” will be required, which the Government says will encourage integration and help people support themselves financially.
  • The current requirement for “high-skilled” workers to be graduates will be ditched, and replaced to allow those with the equivalent of A-Levels as their minimum standard to enter.

WHAT ABOUT THOSE DEEMED TO HAVE LOWER SKILLS?

The Government stuck with the MAC recommendation that there should be “no dedicated route” for low-skilled workers to move to the UK, given lower-skilled migrant labour “may have depressed wages or stifled innovation in our economy”.

  • “Temporary short-term workers”, that is those with any skill level, will be able to move to the UK during a post-Brexit transitional period set to run until at least 2025, in order to measure the scheme's success
  • They will only be able to stay for a maximum of one year and must return to their home countries for a “cooling-off period” of a further twelve months.
  • They will not be able to claim public funds during that time, ministers say.
  • They will not be able to switch to other routes during their stay, such as that of a “skilled worker” or student, or to bring dependents.
  • Workers will need to pay a visa fee – which is set to rise each year following the post-Brexit transition period in an attempt to encourage businesses to take on British workers
  • Migrants who are dependants of skilled workers, students, or refugees, will be able to work.
  • A trial for a special seasonal agricultural workers scheme will run in 2019 in recognition of the challenges faced by the industry.
  • The Government wants to replicate the Youth Mobility Scheme, which allows people aged 18-30 from certain other countries to come to the UK to work or study for up to two year with the EU.

HOW WILL IT AFFECT THOSE WANTING TO STUDY IN THE UK?

  • There will be no limit on the number of international students who can come to the UK.
  • The same rules that apply for non-European students will now apply to those from the European Economic Area.
  • All students coming to the UK will be sponsored by their institutions, as is the case for non-EEA students.
  • Post-study work visas will allow graduates of all levels to stay for 12 months after.
  • The Government will “ensure” international graduates can switch easily into high-skilled work.
  • The UK will continue to welcome international students who want to study at independent schools in the UK.