This report covers measures outlined in the U.K. government’s latest White Paper on the U.K.’s post-Brexit immigration system and its impact on EEA and non-EEA nationals and their employers.
On 19 December 2018, the U.K. government presented to Parliament its long-awaited White Paper on the U.K.’s post-Brexit immigration system.1 The new U.K.-wide system, which is scheduled to go live on 1 January 2021, will be based on skills rather than nationality. The U.K.’s Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, stated that the proposals outlined in the White Paper represent “the most significant changes to the immigration system in more than 40 years,”2 and acknowledged employers will require time to adjust to them.
The future U.K. immigration system described in the White Paper ends the free movement of European Economic Area (EEA) nationals to the U.K., and introduces restrictions on their ability to live and work in the country. However, it is important to note that - unless future bilateral trade deals agree simplified immigration procedures - the new system will apply to EEA, as well as non-EEA nationals.
While some positive changes have been made to a number of existing migrant sponsorship requirements (see below), the proposals are likely to affect the resources businesses will have to devote to managing their global mobility programmes going forward, as well as the hiring of non-British employees locally. The timelines and the costs of an increasing number of visa applications, from a business’ perspective, will have to be factored into any future workforce planning and talent acquisition.
Below is a brief summary of some of the proposed changes:
The U.K. government’s proposals could result in a dramatic reduction in businesses’ access to lower-skilled labour from the EU. At this stage it is unclear what the uptake for a temporary route for short-term workers would be, nor to what extent it could bridge the shortfall in low-skilled workers after the end to free movement between the EU and the United Kingdom.
The government estimates that its proposals could result in an 80-percent reduction in the numbers of long-term EEA workers coming to the U.K., and the White Paper’s proposals might inevitably require businesses to make numerous changes to their recruitment systems and planning priorities. Future restrictions on EEA nationals coming to work and stay in the U.K. appear to be on the horizon, and with employers that need to retain EEA nationals in their workforces, they should continue to engage with their EEA workers on issues such as the EU Settlement Scheme. (For related coverage of the EU Settlement Scheme, see GMS Flash Alert 2018-134, 19 October 2018.)
For employers of skilled non-EU migrants, it appears future immigration restrictions will diminish the ability to hire EEA nationals; however, the relaxation of certain criteria of the Tier 2 route, increased opportunities for foreign graduates to remain in the U.K. for work, possible amendments to permitted activities for business visitors, and the expansion of temporary mobility schemes may be helpful to U.K. businesses.
1 See “The U.K.’s future skills-based immigration system (PDF 14.6 MB) ” (19 December 2018). For coverage of the U.K. government’s policy paper on the rights of European Union (EU) citizens in the U.K. in the event of the U.K. leaving the EU without a deal, see GMS Flash Alert 2018-157, 7 December 2018.
2 As reported in K. MacLellan and A. MacAskill, Reuters, “UK to prioritise high-skilled migrants post-Brexit, business groups skeptical” (19 December 2018).
The KPMG Legal Services – Immigration Team has a wealth of experience in transactional, advisory, and compliance assurance services. We will be able to advise your business in relation to practical considerations in light of the above changes, as well as what this means for your long-term recruitment and compliance strategies.
* Please note the KPMG International member firm in the United States does not provide immigration or labour law services. However, KPMG Law LLP in Canada can assist clients with U.S. immigration matters.
The information contained in this newsletter was submitted by the KPMG International member firm in the United Kingdom.
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