Earlier this week, documents leaked to the Guardian newspaper showed the UK government’s plans to drive down EU migration after Brexit, especially that which comprises of low-skilled workers.
The 82-page paper, marked as extremely sensitive and dated August 2017, sets out for the first time how Britain intends to approach the politically charged issue of immigration, dramatically refocusing policy to put British workers first.
“Put plainly, this means that, to be considered valuable to the country as a whole, immigration should benefit not just the migrants themselves but also make existing residents better off,” the paper says.
British businesses, the Institute of Directors and immigration solicitors have expressed their anger and dismay at the leaked draft policy, believing it is not in the country’s best interests.
The National Farmers Union yesterday warned of a "massive disruption" for farmers if the proposals went ahead, and the Institute of Directors argued it is "not the approach that business... will want to see".
Main points of the document
The ten main points of the leaked government post-Brexit proposal on EU migrants are as follows:
One – A three-stage withdrawal
The document outlines three stages for transforming the UK’s immigration policy to deal with EU nationals. First, prior to Brexit there will be an introduction of an immigration Bill. This will be followed by an implementation period of two years. Finally, the tough new rules will become established law. The government states it is at this stage Britain “will be able to set rules to control the type and volume of temporary and permanent migration from the EU”.
Two – Britain first
The document states that immigration needs to benefit the country as a whole. It also stipulated that UK employers should look to meet their recruitment needs within the residential market. This is supported by the strict Resident Labour Market Test and £1000 immigration skills charge which UK Sponsor Licence holders already have to satisfy.
Three – Passport and border controls
It is likely that following Brexit, EU migrants will be required to present a valid passport when entering the UK.
Four – Freedom of movement
Freedom of movement will end as soon as Britain leaves the EU in April 2019. During the implementation phase, people who want to reside here for an extended period will have to provide proof of citizenship either with a passport “or a Home Office biometric immigration document”.
Five – Permanent Resident Applications
EU nationals applying for a Permanent Residence Card will have to provide documents illustrating they are exercising their Treaty rights as:
- a student
- economically self sufficient
They will also need to provide their fingerprints.
Six – EU national work permits will only last for two years
The document seems to suggest only highly-skilled EU migrants will be able to stay in the UK longer than three years after phase three of the policy’s implementation.
“We are minded to grant those in highly-skilled occupations and have an Employment contract of more than 12 months a permit lasting three to five years. For those in other occupations, it may be up to two years”.
Seven - Restricting the right of EU National family members to enter and remain in the UK
One of the most controversial initiatives is likely to be that family members of EU nationals will be restricted on entering and remaining in the UK. It has been suggested that the government plans to extend the Minimum Income Rule, which requires UK settled persons to have a minimum income of £18,600 if they wish to bring their non-EEA spouse to the UK, to EU nationals once the third phase is in place.
Eight – Income Requirements for some EU nationals
EU nationals who plan to enter the UK as an economically self-sufficient person may be required to have a minimum income. The amount has not yet been specified.
Nine – British workers will be prioritised
Several suggestions are being mentioned in the document to ensure employers put British workers first. These include making it harder for EU nationals to settle long-term in the UK and restricting the number of EU nationals that can apply for low-skilled jobs.
Ten – Refusing entry to more EU nationals
The document states the UK intends to strengthen its ability to refuse entry clearance to EU nationals who have a criminal record or are deemed a threat to the UK.
What should EU nationals living in the UK do now?
The most important step EU nationals who wish to remain in the UK after Brexit may wish to take is to get an EU Permanent Residence Card. This will entitle you to remain in the UK and apply for British Citizenship.
To be eligible for a Permanent Residence Card, you need to have been living in the UK as a “qualified person” (ie exercising your Treaty rights) for five years. A lot of documentation is required, for example, if you are employed, you may need to submit your payslips and Employment contracts for the past five years. Those who are exercising their Treaty rights as a student or self-sufficient person will need to have Comprehensive Sickness Insurance.
What about Settled Status?
In July 2017, Prime Minister, Theresa May outlined her plans for how the government would secure the residency rights of the three million or so EU nationals currently residing in the UK. Under the Settled Status scheme, EU nationals would be effectively be treated almost the same as other citizens of foreign countries, with virtually no EU law rights retained at all. One positive adjustment made to the eligibility requirements is that the requirement for Comprehensive Sickness Insurance would be scrapped.
Settled Status may be lost after two years of absence from the UK, which could make it difficult for people who have to care for elderly parents on the Continent or who are offered temporary work opportunities within the EU.
Because nothing has been formally decided, the best thing EU nationals living in the UK can do is speak to an immigration solicitor who can advise them on the best option for their particular circumstances.
OTS Solicitors is one of the most respected immigration law firms in London. By making an appointment with one of our immigration solicitors, you can be assured of receiving some of the best legal advice available in the UK today. We will provide clear, practical advice on what EU nationals and their families should do to solidify their right to remain in the UK post-Brexit.
If you wish to discuss any of the points raised in this blog, please phone our London office on 0207 936 9960.
For the best expert legal advice and outcome on your UK immigration application, contact OTS immigration solicitors on 020 7936 9960 or contact us online.
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Posted on: Thursday, 07 September, 2017