The Brexit is upon us. With the votes counted and the result in, the people of the U.K. have voted to leave the European Union. We review here the immigration changes offered by the leave camp in the run up to the vote. We should emphasise that the “Vote Leave” group are not a government but a collation of those in favour of leaving the EU. Ultimately, our post-Brexit UK immigration policies will be determined by the governing Conservative government unless there is a general election.
David Cameron this morning announced that there will be no immediate changes to UK immigration policy and that people and goods will continue to travel freely whilst we remain in the EU
So what did the Vote Leave camp offer as our future immigration policy?
1. An Australian-style, points based immigration system.
The introduction of an Australian-style system which will admit migrants based on their skills and current areas of accepted shortage within the UK labour market. This opens the door to inclusion of lower skilled jobs than the existing points based system already in operation in the UK.
The Leave camp promised that the new points based system will be “less bureaucratic and much simpler than the existing system for non-EU citizens.” Let’s see.
2. English language
All economic migrants will have to be suitable for the job in question and must speak good English. There was and is no English language requirement for Europeans and their non-EEA partners. These are the only people that will be affected by this measure which already exists for non-EEA migration.
Vote Leave stated that any EU national already lawfully resident in the UK will be “automatically… granted indefinite leave to remain and will be treated no less favourably than they are at present.” Mention was not made of the non-EEA partners but it would be inconceivable to grant status to an EEA national and deny permission to their partner.
It will be interesting to see how the definition of lawfully resident in the UK will be interpreted. At present EEA nationals and their partners have an automatic right of entry for up to 3 months. Thereafter, if they exercise a Treaty right, ie. work, take up self-employment, study or be economically self-sufficient, then they have a directly effective right to stay in the UK, there is no legal requirement to apply for a document or card to prove this right and so most Europeans do not apply to the Home Office for a Residence Card. There is now likely to be an extension of the pre-referendum rush of applications from European nationals seeking to safeguard their stay in the UK.
Further commentary on post-Brexit UK immigration can be found here.
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