You may be aware that the Home Office Immigration White Paper was released on Wednesday 19 December setting out the UK’s future immigration regime. The White Paper answers a number of identified questions from business and can be accessed here.
Also, BEIS’ EU Exit Business Readiness Team has provided a brief summary of the key points relating to businesses:
- A single global immigration system: UK immigration rules will apply to EU and non-EU migrants alike, with flexibility for preferential agreements where do we trade deals. Market based mechanisms (e.g. salary thresholds), will be used to exercise control, and reduce net migration to sustainable levels.
- Devolution: immigration is a reserved matter, and the regime will apply to the whole of the UK equally.
- Crossing the border: the UK will apply an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) scheme to improve security, this will be light-touch and similar in format to the US ESTA. To support a flexible labour market, in-country switching from one immigration status to another will be permitted.
- Visitors: plans are in place to discuss with business the scope to simplify and expand permitted business activities which can be carried out as a visitor. The scheme will also allow visitors from low risk countries to switch into temporary or skilled worker routes.
- Skilled workers: the core framework will be based on qualification levels and salary, not nationality. The Shortage Occupation List will be retained and extended to incorporate EEA workers, being continually updated under MAC supervision to reflect priority professions with a labour deficit. Workers will need to be sponsored.
- Temporary workers: there will be no dedicated route for unskilled labour, but transitional measures are proposed to ensure key sectors can temporarily access short-term workers at any skill level. The scheme is only open to nationals of low-risk countries, has a maximum one year duration, and will not lead to permanent settlement or accompaniment by dependents. Sponsorship by professional umbrella organisations is being proposed to ensure maximum labour market flexibility.
- Assurance and sponsorship: lighter touch assurance and sponsorship will be introduced to reduce the time and administrative burden associated with hiring. Skilled workers will be able to switch easily between employers with a sponsor licence.
- High-value migrants: existing Tier 1 provisions will be reformed and extended to EU nationals.
- Study: provisions for non-EU students will be expanded to include EEA nationals. International graduates of UK institutions will be able to switch into high-skilled work.
- Compliance and enforcement: there will be no requirement for retrospective right to work checks by employers of existing EU employees.
- Mobility framework with the EU and other FTAs: provisions will be made to enable companies to move employees between offices in different countries, and there will be arrangements to enable the movement or researchers and students.
- Digital delivery: applications to work in the UK will be made digitally, with online status checking to reduce the burden on employers.