A new year brings UK immigration reform
The future of UK immigration policy is yet to be released with detailed policy announcements due later this month, but what do we know so far about the new immigration system that should be in force from January 2021?
Here’s what we know so far…
EU migration after Brexit
With the EU Withdrawal Bill expected to be ratified on 29 January, the UK is on course to leave the EU as planned on 31 January 2020. This means that the UK is set to enter a transition period where free movement for EU nationals will effectively continue until 11pm on 31 December 2020 (subject to change).
All EU nationals resident in the UK by 31 December 2020 can remain in the UK beyond exit day as long as they are registered under the EU Settlement Scheme that intends to close on 30 June 2021.
This means that new EU nationals coming to the UK from 1 January 2021 will need to apply under a new scheme if they intend to live and work in the UK.
With a reform of the UK points based system not exactly reflecting the proposed Australian points based system the government pledged, it is expected there will be separate immigration categories for skilled workers, sector based workers and exceptional talent/contribution individuals.
It looks as though skilled workers will still need sponsorship from a UK employer and it is likely to function similar to the current Tier 2 sponsorship system with some changes to reflect the Migration Advisory Committee’s (MAC) recommendations, such as lowering of the skills level and fast track entry for shortage jobs.
There is no indication of a low skilled route as expected, other than for specific sectors that will have temporary permission to come to the UK, such as seasonal agricultural workers.
What about other work routes?
There is still no reference to the re-introduction of the post study work visa to provide graduates with a two year work visa or arrangements for self-employed migrants that will largely effect businesses who rely on contractors currently sourced from the EU.
It is now just a case of watching this space as the government, with the assistance of MAC, shape the future of our immigration regime.
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