In recent years, UK Immigration Policies have been larger and more diverse than ever. Until recently, EU citizens enjoyed free movement in the country and were exempt from most admission requirements.
But, that changed with Brexit. Read on to learn more about what the UK’s departure from the European Union means for its immigration policies.
Brexit and Immigration: An Overview
The issue of immigration was a key concern of voters during the Brexit referendum campaign, with the Leave side arguing that high levels of net migration from EU countries was harming the economy. Since the vote, the government has enacted a number of new laws that change how the UK deals with migration from the rest of Europe and beyond.
One of these changes ended the free movement of EU citizens in the UK on January 1 and introduced a new points-based system that requires them to have visas before arriving in the country for work or other purposes. In addition, the UK is introducing border checks and controls that could slow trade with the EU.
The new system may also create challenges for integration processes, which are the two-way process by which migrants and native communities adapt to each other. This is because the new system is expected to reduce EU immigration, and it includes selectivity criteria that can make it difficult for some migrant groups to get on the path to settlement.
Changes in Immigration Rules for EU Citizens
Before Brexit, EU citizens could move to the UK for work or study without having to obtain a visa. Now, they must apply through the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) in order to secure their residence rights.
The new process may affect the number of people who are granted pre-settled status, but it does not appear to be limiting immigration in any significant way. However, it is still too early to know what effect, if any, the policy will have on overall migration from the EU.
It is possible that the UK will introduce admission requirements for EU nationals after it leaves the EU, such as a minimum salary level or skills test. If so, these changes would likely result in reduced flows of workers from the EU, as well as higher average earnings for those who are admitted.
The change in the rules for EU citizens might also impact the composition of the workforce, with a shift toward lower-wage jobs that are harder to automate. But these effects will be delayed, as employers take time to adjust their hiring practices to the new system and learn how it affects the demand for labour in the short to medium term.
New Points-Based System for Skilled Workers
The removal of free movement for EU citizens is expected to reduce immigration overall, with lower flows of workers in certain sectors, particularly those that depend on low-skilled labour (such as agriculture). It is also likely to mean that employers will have to pay higher wages for new migrant workers.
This is a major departure from previous government policy that sought to control net migration by limiting the number of skilled migrants, who were subject to capped numbers and salary thresholds. The migration Observatory has detailed the implications of this change in a briefing entitled “Locking out key workers?”
The government’s announcement of a points-based system largely focuses on the Tier 2 route for skilled worker visas. The new system largely retains the employer-led sponsorship model that operated in the UK before Brexit but it imposes a points system, which will be used to select applicants. Tier 2 visas will remain available for highly skilled and medium-skilled jobs, but it is expected that many of these jobs will be subject to tighter criteria than previously.
Settled Status for EU Nationals in the UK
Immigration was one of the most significant issues raised during the Brexit campaign and a key reason why many British people voted for Leave. The high levels of EU migration, especially in the previous decade, were a concern.
As of now, there is no clear way to tell how Brexit will impact immigration. There are many factors that could influence this, including the economic importance of immigrant workers, and the new system’s ability to address different regional needs.
For example, there is a good chance that local districts that saw a large increase in EU migration in recent years may see lower levels of overall immigration. This may be especially true if the new system places more emphasis on skilled workers. As this would reduce immigration from low-wage sectors of the economy.
However, it is also possible that the UK will need to attract more non-EU migrants to balance out the numbers. And meet the demands of different parts of the country. This is something that will take time to figure out. Until then, EU citizens and their family members can continue to live and work in the UK by applying under the Settled Status scheme.
Future of UK Immigration Policies: Implications and Considerations
There are several factors that could affect the future of UK immigration. First, the COVID-19 pandemic may have caused a reduction in migrant numbers (although this is not clear from official data). In addition, local economic conditions and labour shortages are likely to impact migration patterns.
Second, Brexit may not reduce migration as much as some Leave campaigners have claimed. For example, there are labour shortages in less-skilled sectors of the economy. The new immigration system, while more liberal than before, may not be enough to offset these labour shortages. Given minimum salary thresholds and the labour market test that requires employers to advertise jobs before hiring migrant workers.
Third, the new rules might lead to greater exploitation of migrant workers. This is because, in general, people who work in low-wage, temporary or seasonal positions are more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation than people working in high-paying and permanent jobs.
Finally, it is unclear whether other EU countries will follow the UK’s lead in ending free movement of their citizens. This would require negotiating bilateral agreements with individual EU countries, which might take years to complete.
FAQs and Answers for UK Immigration Policies:
- FAQ: How has Brexit changed the immigration landscape in the UK?
- Answer: Brexit has brought significant changes to the UK’s immigration policies. It marked the end of free movement for EU citizens and introduced a points-based system for immigration. Impacting the eligibility criteria and requirements for various visa categories.
- FAQ: Can EU citizens still move to the UK post-Brexit?
- Answer: Yes, EU citizens can still move to the UK post-Brexit, but they must follow new immigration rules. They may need to secure a visa, such as the Skilled Worker Visa, and meet specific eligibility criteria.
- FAQ: What is the Settled Status, and who is eligible for it?
- Answer: Settled Status is a scheme designed to protect the rights of EU nationals who were already living in the UK before Brexit. Eligible individuals can apply to secure their status, allowing them to continue living and working in the UK.
- FAQ: Are there any implications for UK citizens living in EU countries?
- Answer: Yes, Brexit also impacts UK citizens living in EU countries. They may need to follow new residency and visa rules in their respective EU host countries. Each EU country has its own policies.
- FAQ: How has the points-based system changed the UK’s approach to immigration?
- Answer: The points-based system assesses applicants based on factors like skills, qualifications, salary, and job offer. It replaces previous routes and emphasizes attracting highly skilled individuals to the UK.
- FAQ: What should businesses and employers know about hiring foreign workers post-Brexit?
- Answer: Employers must be aware of the new immigration rules and the sponsorship system for hiring foreign workers. They should ensure compliance with these regulations to legally employ non-UK nationals.