At 10pm last night, I loaded three boys and several flasks of hot chocolate into the car and set off for the Royal Mint in Llantrisant, Wales. At around 2.15 this morning, we each minted our own Brexit 50p coin. Whatever your views on Brexit, the EU, British politics and the play out of democracy, the coin’s sentiment “peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations” is one to unite. And an inspiring theme for our memory-making road trip to mark this historic day. Mission accomplished, we set off on the long drive back to south London and home, in time for school.
At 11pm this evening the UK will leave the European Union. What will UK immigration look like in the new “Global Britain”? Here’s what a promise, a report and a new visa suggest…
Boris Johnson has promised an Australian-style points-based system by January 2021, the end of the EU withdrawal transition period. The scheme was expected to follow advice awaited from the Migration Advisory Committee. The MAC published its report on 28 January; it advises, however, only a limited role for a points-based system.
The 278-page MAC report makes recommendations, amongst other things, for “a skilled worker route for entry with a job offer (currently, the enigmatically named Tier 2 General)” and “a work route for entry without a job offer (the only slightly less mysteriously-named Tier 1 Exceptional Talent).”
The Tier 2 (General) category for skilled workers with a job offer was originally introduced in 2008 as points-based, with tradeable points. As the MAC report notes, it has evolved such that all criteria must be met (the points don’t add value, functioning more as a checklist), so “the current packaging as a PBS is, forgive the pun, pointless.” The report recommends no changes to the current framework (so no move to a points-based system for this major category). In an employer-driven system, the combination of skill eligibility and a salary threshold works well. It does however recommend lowering the minimum salary threshold from £30,000 to £25,600: post Brexit, this would mean that “most employers” could hire migrants “at wages which many existing workers in those occupations are currently being paid.” Whilst the MAC doesn’t recommend introducing geographical variation to the salary threshold, it does advise the Government pilot a specific visa to address the needs of remote areas.
In contrast, the MAC advise that, if the Government wish there to be a points-based entry option, the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category needs significant improvement and a point-based system could be applied to it. It notes the excessively high threshold for applicants and the fact that the cap of 2000 visas has never been met (though a cap should be retained). It also recommends that focus should be more on those with high potential than established exceptional talent.
Yesterday the Home Office published changes to the Immigration Rules coming into effect on 20th February. These replace the existing Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category with a new Global Talent visa, which is neither part of a points-based system nor capped. The Home Office states that the category is “for talented and promising individuals in the fields of science, digital technology and arts and culture wishing to work in the UK.” Global Talent applicants must hold an endorsement from an organisation engaged by the Home Office to develop sector specific criteria and to consider individual applications on its behalf. UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) will join the existing Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) endorsing bodies: the Royal Society, the British Academy, the Royal Academy of Engineering, Tech Nation and Arts Council England.
The government plans to apply the same rules to EU nationals as to the rest of the world at the end of the transition period in January 2021, two years earlier than promised by Theresa May, removing the temporary extension of current rules to 2023 sought by business groups. (You can find out more on what Brexit means for EU nationals at the HJT Brexit Update on 11th February.
So it remains to be seen, come January 2021, how peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations may further translate into points, permits and thresholds within the UK Immigration Rules. If the Government stick to their promise of a points-based system, there’s a long drive ahead… and not that much time to get there.
By Angela Walters on behalf of HJT Training
For details of our Brexit European Union Law Update on Tuesday 11th February click here
We have a limited edition commemorative Brexit 50p coin minted today to give away! Follow and retweet on HJT Twitter