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UK immigration White Paper revealed

In what is billed as the biggest shake-up in immigration for 40 years, the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, has finally revealed the government’s immigration plan for Britain post-Brexit. The long-awaited White Paper has been the cause of much discord at the high levels of government in recent weeks.

The key points of the UK immigration white paper are as follows:

End to free movement

The white paper is clear that after the UK’s exit from the European Union and following the Implementation Period, free movement will end and the UK Immigration Rules will apply to EU and non-EU migrants alike.  Everyone will be required to obtain a permission if they want to come to the UK and to work or study here.

Immigration based on skills

The current system of admitting only highly skilled workers from outside the EU, and workers of all skill levels from the EU will be replaced with a single route which gives access to highly skilled and skilled workers from all countries.  Those coming to the UK on this route will need an employer to sponsor them.

Cap to be scrapped

The new immigration system will not impose a cap on the numbers of skilled workers that can come into the UK.

Sponsoring an overseas worker to be made easier

The requirements of companies for sponsoring a worker for a UK visa will be made easier. The Home Office is hoping to do away with a lot of the regulations to make it simpler for companies to recruit skilled professionals from overseas.  For example, employers of skilled migrants will no longer be required to carry out a resident labour market test as a condition of sponsoring a worker.

Labour market flexibility

Nationals of the lowest risk countries will be able to apply for a work visa in the UK, meaning they will not be required to leave the UK and make return journeys to make their applications.

Low-skilled EU workers can still work in the UK for 12 months up to 2025

It is proposed to institute a time-limited route for temporary short-term low skilled workers. This route will allow people to come for a maximum of 12 months, with a cooling-off period of a further 12 months to prevent people effectively working in the UK permanently.  Aimed at smoothing the effects of Brexit and the lack of free movement on UK businesses, the plans would come into effect from 2021 at the end of the transition period and be in operation until at least 2025.

A salary threshold is still unknown

The White Paper has still not made it any clearer what the future salary threshold will be for migrants that are considered skilled workers hoping to migrate to the UK.  Some ministers have called for the current threshold of £30,000 to be slashed, but a decision is yet to be made and is awaiting further consultation.

The pledge to cut net immigration still stands

The government is struggling to stand by its own election pledge to cut yearly net UK migration to under 100,000.  The White Paper hints towards the manifesto pledge but stops short of stating it explicitly. However, the Prime Minister did back the pledge when responding to questions at PMQs after the White Paper’s release.

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