EU citizens will no longer be given priority to live and work in the UK in what promises to be a radical overhaul of immigration policy after Brexit.
Theresa May recently announced her plans to end free movement “once and for all” and adopt a skills-based migration policy in the UK.
The PM reiterated that highly skilled workers who wanted to live and work in the UK would be given priority, while low-skilled immigration would be curbed. She tentatively added that a future deal with the EU could include an agreement on the “mobility” of each other’s workers.
Presently, the Home Office allows up to 20,700 high-skilled workers into the UK each year under the Tier 2 route.
Currently, EU freedom of movement allows all passport holders from the European Economic Area (all EU countries) - as well as Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland – to travel and work in the UK without visas, regardless of skills.
For the rest of the world specific work permits are needed to come and work in the UK. Visas for “skilled workers”, who usually have to earn at least £30,000 annually, must be “sponsored” by a UK-based company.
Meanwhile, the PM claimed that the government wanted British people to fill job vacancies in industries such as hospitality and construction, which rely heavily on EU migrants. The PM’s crackdown on low-skilled migrants would fuel a shortage of care and hospitality workers, destabilising the industry.
The British Retail Consortium argued that Theresa May’s policy should be based on the UK economy’s needs, rather than an arbitrarily drawn line based on salaries and skills.
The Labour Party added that the UK government was making a “dubious” distinction between low and high-skilled workers, saying that care workers are technically “low-skilled” but are “vital to our society”.
Post-Brexit immigration plans follow a recommendation by the Migration Advisory Committee, which included a recommendation to drop the cap for highly-skilled visas altogether.
The cabinet agreed to the committee's recommendations last week and a White Paper setting out the details is promised in the autumn.
Gherson has extensive experience in dealing with Tier 2 visas. Should you require any advice or assist, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.
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.