Changes to UK immigration – will the suggested approaches ever be implemented?

24 Jan 2020, 17 mins ago

The festive period is over and the New Year is now providing further insights into what the proposed ‘Australian Points Based System’ may look like after Brexit. Despite Parliament voting to leave, uncertainty continues to swirl around Brexit given that the European Parliament is also still to give the green light for the UK to formally leave the EU on 31 January 2020. This being said, reform to the current UK Immigration system is gathering momentum. Here is a summary of what we have been told over the last three weeks by Boris Johnson and the Home Secretary Priti Patel.

  1. Boris Johnson lifts £30,000 wage barrier on immigrants

On 22 January 2020, the Prime Minister announced that he intends to scrap the £30,000 minimum salary threshold for immigrants arriving after Brexit, a revolutionary change compared to Theresa May’s approach.

Under the ‘Australian Points Based System’, it is proposed that the following will be taken into consideration for all future migrant applications:

  1. Migrant’s earnings; 
  2. English language proficiency;
  3. Level of qualification;
  4. Type of occupation; and
  5. Location of work within the UK.

It will be interesting to see how a migrant’s earnings will be assessed given the intention for the current £30,000 salary threshold to be removed.

There have been indications that the future rules could increase the number of migrants coming to the UK. This would contradict Mr Johnson’s previous confirmations that the intention is for the UK to take back control of its own borders, end free movement and reduce the number of people coming to the UK. Further clarity and guidance as to the mechanisms by which the new points based system will operate are to be published next week, together with a White Paper in March.

  1. Law Commission calls for the Immigration Rules to be simplified  

Following recognition that the current immigration system was overly complex, unworkable and in need of overhaul, at the request of the then Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, The Law Commission produced a 219-page report which made 41 recommendations to improve the presentation of the Rules and provided suggestions on how they could be stopped from degenerating in the future. The following is a selection of the recommendations made:

  • A new 24-part structure to the Rules, covering definitions, commons provisions and specific routes, followed by seven appendices;
  • Each paragraph to be given a number;
  • A new drafting guide, including advice such as “get straight to the point” and “use simple, everyday English” to be implemented;
  • An advisory committee to review the text at regular intervals;
  • Producing “booklets” of the Rules that apply to each visa category;
  • Simplifying and consolidating Home Office guidance documents in tandem with tackling the Rules themselves;
  • “A less prescriptive approach to evidential requirements”, with lists of acceptable evidence provided (similar to the approach in Appendix EU); and
  • Only two statements of changes to the Rules a year, unless there is “an urgent need for additional change”.

As the above are only recommendations, the current Secretary of State is yet to confirm whether any of them will be implemented.

  1. Australian Points based system to be brought in by the end of 2020

The Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has reportedly stated that an Australian style system will be implemented before the end of the year, to follow on from the transition period for Brexit. 

Boris Johnson recognises the need to deliver change as soon as possible to allow businesses to be prepared for the restrictions they will face in relation to low-skilled workers. 

Whether the above changes are introduced by the government remains to be seen but we do know that certainty and clarity around the mechanics of the UK immigration system is a hot topic close to the hearts of many. Watch this space! Gherson will provide further updates over the coming weeks. 

The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.

 ©Gherson 2020


Sasha Lal 

  Sasha Lal

  Consultant and trainee solicitor in our Corporate Team