News | Legal News

07 September 2017

Brexit: Leaked immigration paper

The media has published a leaked paper from the Home Office on its draft plans for the immigration system post Brexit.

The report suggests that there will be a transitional period after Brexit.  EU nationals that come to the UK during this period to stay to work or study will have to register and lower-skilled EU workers may only be given permission to stay in the UK for two years initially.  The suggestion is for EU nationals working in “highly-skilled occupations” to be given permission to work for between three and five years.  In contrast, under the current rules, EU nationals are allowed to enter and leave the UK and work and/or study essentially without restriction.

There are also plans to tighten the requirements for self-sufficient and student EU nationals, making it harder to qualify in these categories.

In addition, the document confirms that there will be a phased introduction to a new immigration system for EU nationals and may be new restrictions on EU nationals’ rights to bring family members to the UK.

Chris Brazier, business immigration lawyer at B P Collins LLP, comments on the potential repercussions of these proposals for businesses:

“A huge number of employers, particularly those in the manufacturing, hospitality, food and care industries have had to look to the EU to help them find workers to carry out the low-skilled jobs necessary to keep their businesses going because they simply cannot recruit enough UK workers to fill these roles.

“If the government’s proposal to reduce lower skilled workers’ initial permission to stay in the UK to two years is implemented, there is a real danger that there will be labour shortages in these sectors.  EU nationals might not want to come here if they can only stay for a short period of time as there will be little incentive for them to try to integrate or to buy a property.

“Theresa May argued in today’s Prime Minister Questions that net migration needs to be at sustainable levels because of the ‘impact it has on people on the lower end of the income scale in depressing their wages.’ But, in reality, it is unlikely that there will be enough of an increase in wages to encourage UK citizens to take on these lower-skilled jobs within the next few years.  With the inevitable reduction in the number of immigrants coming to fill UK roles, where will these businesses find the employees required to carry out their essential work?

“These new proposals do not tell us much more than we already knew about the position of EU nationals who were already in the UK in March 2017 – the intention still seems to be that they will be allowed to continue living and working in the UK to work towards settled status following Brexit (although it is likely that they will have to register their presence in the UK).

“However, this does serve to highlight the importance of EU nationals who are currently living in the UK or who are planning to come to the UK, to understand their rights and what their options are likely to be going forward.  Taking legal advice on this now will help them to plan for the future and to take any steps necessary to protect their position for the future.”

If you are an EU national or an employer of EU nationals and would like advice on managing the effect of Brexit, please contact Chris at or 01753 279029.

Chris Brazier

Chris Brazier

Tel: 01753 278658

Stay in touch

Phone: +44 (0) 1753 889995


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