Europe & UK

December 20, 2018

Home Secretary issues White Paper on “The UK’s future skills-based immigration system”


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sajidjavid

On December 19, UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid set out plans for a new single, skills-based immigration system which marks the end of free movement.

The UK government on its website issued details on the new immigration system. The website stated, “The new immigration system will introduce a new route for skilled workers which favors 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.”

It added that the White Paper proposals will, in line with the recommendations made by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), 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 labor market tests by employers wanting to sponsor a worker.

In this regard, Home Secretary Javid said, “Today’s proposals are the biggest change to our immigration system in a generation... We are taking a skills-based approach to ensure we can attract the brightest and best migrants to the UK... These measures will boost our economy and benefit the British people.”

There will also be a new route for workers at any skill level for a temporary period. This will allow all businesses have the staff they need as we move to the new immigration system but ensure they have the incentive to train young people in the future.

The 12-month visa will provide access to the labor 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 business as part of the extensive engagement program planned.

The White Paper proposals will also ensure that 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.

The White Paper proposes the following measures to improve border security checks and support frictionless flow of legitimate passengers’ checks.

• creating a single, consistent approach to criminality by aligning both EU and non-EU criminality thresholds

• ending the use national ID cards as a form of travel documentation for EU citizens as soon as is practicable, given these documents are more insecure and open to abuse than passports

• introducing 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 The Immigration and Social Security Coordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill published on December 20 ends free movement and creates the legal framework for the future borders and immigration system. It also creates the legal framework for a future, single benefits system that will apply to both EU and non-EU nationals and maintains the Common Travel Area between the UK and Ireland.

The new immigration and borders system will be implemented in a phased approach from 2021 following an extensive 12-month program of engagement with businesses, stakeholders, and the public by the Home Office. Summary of the agreement on EU citizens’ rights (and their family members) for those living lawfully in the UK before the end of the Implementation Period is as follows:

• EU citizens who have been living in the UK continuously for five years will be eligible for settled status in UK law.

• EU citizens who arrived before the end of the Implementation Period, but who have not been here for five years, will be eligible for pre-settled status, enabling them to stay until they have accumulated five years, after which they may apply for settled status.

• The Withdrawal Agreement will also allow close family members who live in a different country to join an EU citizen at any time in the future under current rules, if the relationship existed before the end of the Implementation Period.

• EU citizens protected by the agreement will continue to be able to work, study and establish a business in the UK as now.

• EU citizens with settled status or pre-settled status to stay may access healthcare, pensions and other benefits and services in the UK, as they do currently.

• Frontier workers (EU citizens who reside in one state, and work in the UK) will continue to be able to enter the UK to work under current rules, if they started this work before the end of the Implementation Period.

The website stated, “The new system will not come into play immediately after we leave the EU. It will take time to design and implement. We will do this in a phased way, between now and the end of the Implementation Period, with further reforms to follow. We need to put in place the necessary legislative and operational provisions and ensure stakeholders across the UK are ready. The new system will start to operate from the end of Implementation Period. In the meantime, we will implement the EU Settlement Scheme which will give EU citizens protected by the Withdrawal Agreement security as to their future status. Irish citizens will not need to apply under the future system, to settle as their current rights to live and work in the UK, which pre-date EU free movement, will be preserved and the Common Travel Area will continue to function as now.”

To read the Official White Paper in detail, please view the file attached herein.

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