In the run-up to the June 23rd EU Referendum when Brits will
vote on whether to stay in or leave the EU, immigration has become
quite the centerpiece of the debate, sideling even the economy.
Advocates of Brexit believe that leaving the EU will allow UK to
have more control over immigration and would enable it put in place
a system to decide how many EU citizens can come to live and work
in the UK. According to data released in May 2016, the net
migration to the UK stands at a record 333,000 (http://www.express.co.uk). These latest figures
add more fuel to the ongoing debate.
However, one can say with certainty that Brexit would raise
fundamental questions about the immigration regime in the UK.
Freedom of movement of people is one of the four principles on
which the EU single market is founded, the others being free
movement of goods, capital and services. EU departure could mean
tighter controls on the migration of EU nationals; if Britain were
to follow in the footsteps of Norway, the free movement could
remain largely unaffected. Norway is not a member of the EU but has
access to the EU single market as part of the European Economic
Area (EEA). Britain is likely to negotiate for the free movement of
workers in return for an agreement for the free movement of goods,
but how these negotiations between the UK and EU will pan out is
Upon Brexit, if the UK does decide to impose restrictions on EU
nationals, it will be interesting to see what requirements for work
visas are introduced since a majority of EU nationals come to the
UK for the purpose of work.
Possibility of a New Less- Skilled Worker Program?
Under Britain's existing immigration policies, most non-EU
citizens can be employed in graduate level occupations. There are
very limited options for non-EU citizens to come to the UK for
unskilled or low paid sector jobs. The unskilled jobs in UK are
filled in for the most part by EU citizens under the current free
movement that EU allows. If free movement came to an end, UK
employers such as hotels, restaurants and farms who heavily rely on
EU workers could be adversely affected. If the new immigration
system makes it harder to recruit EU nationals these labor
intensive sectors could potentially suffer from a staff
Immigration Status of EU citizens living in the UK and Brits in
other parts of the EU
In the UK, generally, permanent residence status is obtained
after gaining five years of residence in the UK. Many of the EU
migrants living in the UK have been here for more than 5 years and
could apply for permanent residence assuming that the immigration
policy to that extent remains unchanged. For those EU citizens who
have been in the country for less than five years, there is
uncertainty about what their immigration status would be upon
Britain's exit. It is likely that these individuals would not
lose their existing rights except upon losing their job. There is
also uncertainty as to what rules would apply to new EU citizens
coming to Britain post the referendum but before any formulation of
the new immigration system. These issues might be addressed as part
of the agreement with the EU.
For Brits living and working in the EU, it could be even more
complex. There are many member states of the EU and how each member
state may respond would be hard to predict. Likely, the member
states may impose the same restrictions on Brits in their
respective regions as are imposed by Britain on the EU citizens.
That might possibly translate into a registration regime for Brits
and a work permit regime for new Brit entrants.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
March 1, 2017 - Federal immigration authorities conducted the 6th round of invitations under Express Entry in 2017 inviting 3884 candidates for permanent residence. The lowest CRS score was a record 434...
March 9th - Skilled workers will receive their Canada work permits and Canada visa applications processed within two weeks beginning June 12, 2017 as part of a new Global Talent Stream in the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
January 25, 2017 - Federal immigration authorities conducted the 3rd round of invitations under Express Entry in 2017 and 53rd overall, inviting 3508 candidates for permanent residence, the largest to-date. The lowest CRS score was 453, a continuing trend of decline from previous draws.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).