Brexit and UK Immigration: Changes and Implications for EU/EEA Citizens
The United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union, known as Brexit, brought about significant changes in various aspects of life, including immigration policies. One of the most affected groups by these changes has been citizens of the European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA). Here, we’ll explore the key changes and implications of Brexit on EU/EEA citizens’ immigration status in the UK.
1. End of Free Movement:
The end of free movement means that EU/EEA citizens no longer have the automatic right to live and work in the UK. They now need to apply for a visa or other permission to enter and stay in the UK.
There are a few exceptions to the end of free movement. For example, Irish citizens still have the right to live and work in the UK.
The end of free movement has had a significant impact on UK immigration. It has made it more difficult for EU/EEA citizens to live and work in the UK, and it has also led to a decrease in the number of EU/EEA citizens coming to the UK.
There are a number of reasons why the UK government ended free movement. One reason is that the government wanted to regain control of its borders. Another reason is that the government wanted to reduce net migration to the UK.
The end of free movement has been controversial. Some people believe that it is necessary to protect the UK’s borders and reduce net migration. Others believe that it is unfair to EU/EEA citizens and that it will damage the UK economy.
The impact of the end of free movement is still being debated. It is too early to say what the long-term effects will be.
Here are some of the key changes that have been made to UK immigration since the end of free movement:
- EU/EEA citizens now need to apply for a visa or other permission to enter and stay in the UK.
- The points-based system has been introduced, which prioritizes skilled workers.
- The EU Settlement Scheme has been introduced, which allows EU/EEA citizens who were living in the UK before 31 December 2020 to apply to continue living in the UK.
The UK government has said that it will continue to review its immigration policy in light of the evidence.
2. Settled Status Scheme:
To secure their immigration status in the UK, EU/EEA citizens residing in the UK before the end of the Brexit transition period (December 31, 2020) were encouraged to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme. This scheme granted them either Settled Status (for those with five years of continuous residence) or Pre-Settled Status (for those with less than five years).
- Settled Status: EU/EEA citizens with Settled Status have the right to live and work in the UK indefinitely. They can also access public funds, healthcare, and education, just like British citizens.
- Pre-Settled Status: Those with Pre-Settled Status can stay in the UK for up to five years, after which they must apply for Settled Status. During this time, they have the right to work and access public services.
3. Family Members:
EU/EEA citizens’ family members, regardless of nationality, were also required to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK. This ensures family unity, but they must meet certain eligibility criteria.
4. New Immigration System:
Brexit introduced a new immigration system called the Points-Based System (PBS) for all immigrants, including EU/EEA citizens arriving in the UK after the transition period. This system assigns points based on skills, qualifications, and job offers, among other factors.
5. Visa and Work Permits:
EU/EEA citizens who arrived in the UK after December 31, 2020, typically need a visa or work permit to live and work in the country. The specific visa requirements depend on factors such as employment type, skill level, and sponsorship by an employer.
The type of visa or work permit you need to work in the UK depends on your nationality, the type of work you will be doing, and your qualifications.
Here are some of the most common types of visas and work permits for working in the UK:
- Skilled Worker visa: This visa is for skilled workers who have a job offer from a UK employer. The salary requirement for this visa is £25,600, or the specific salary requirement for the occupation or the ‘going rate’. You must also have a ‘certificate of sponsorship’ from your employer.
- Graduate visa: This visa is for international students who have graduated from a UK university. You can stay in the UK for two years after graduation to look for a job.
- Youth Mobility Scheme visa: This visa is for young people aged 18-30 from certain eligible countries. You can stay in the UK for up to two years.
- Global Talent visa: This visa is for highly skilled workers in certain in-demand occupations. There is no salary requirement for this visa.
- Start-up visa: This visa is for entrepreneurs who are setting up a new business in the UK. There is no salary requirement for this visa.
You can find more information about visas and work permits on the UK government website.
If you are not sure what type of visa or work permit you need, you should speak to an immigration lawyer. They can help you understand the requirements and the application process.
6. Border Checks:
The end of free movement also means increased border checks and the need for a valid passport when traveling to the UK from the EU/EEA. Additionally, EU/EEA citizens are no longer eligible for expedited immigration lanes at UK airports.
7. Impact on Businesses:
Brexit’s immigration changes have implications for UK businesses, particularly those reliant on EU/EEA workers. Many industries have experienced labor shortages, and businesses may need to navigate new sponsorship and recruitment processes.
8. Long-Term Implications:
Brexit’s effects on EU/EEA citizens in the UK will have long-term implications for their status, rights, and opportunities. It’s essential for affected individuals to stay informed about changes in immigration policies and requirements.
Brexit has brought substantial changes to UK immigration policies, affecting the rights and status of EU/EEA citizens. The EU Settlement Scheme provided a means for eligible individuals to secure their immigration status, while those arriving after the transition period must adhere to the new Points-Based System and visa requirements. Staying updated on immigration regulations is crucial for EU/EEA citizens living or planning to move to the UK, as it will impact their future in the country.