The Post Brexit Immigration System – What Do We Know?

We have known for some time that after we leave the EU on 29 March 2019, the plan is to enter a transition period until 31 December 2020, which will see EU nationals and their family members being able to live and work in the UK largely on the same basis as they do now. But what lies beyond that, is until recently a matter of conjecture.

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), has published their report into the impact of EU workers on the UK economy and advised on how to reshape the new system. The recent speeches made by Theresa May and Home Secretary Sajid Javid at the Conservative party conference have given strong indications of how closely they intend to follow the MAC report and what the soon to be published immigration White Paper might contain.

So, what do we think that the post – Brexit immigration system will look like after these recommendations made by MAC?

  • EU Free Movement will come to an end – Theresa May has repeatedly said since the referendum, that the Brexit that she wants will mean the end to free movement of people under EU law. The MAC has agreed, as it cannot be guaranteed that free movement benefits UK residents.
  • There will be equal standing between EU and Non-EU workers – This means that EU nationals will no longer be able to start work in the UK simply by presenting their passport and will have to negotiate a visa system to find employment.
  • Highly skill workers will be arranged in line with their skills – This in essence, is the modern iteration of the Tier 2 of the Points Based System, where access to UK Jobs will only be granted if the EU national can demonstrate they are taking up a highly skilled role.
  • Our new immigration system is going to be an amended version of our current immigration rules – The idea is to make access easier for employers and workers to incorporate the surge of new users of the system, post 2020.
  • The Cap on Tier 2 is most likely to be demolished and access to the tier will be widened – The MAC wants to get rid of the annual quota on Tier 2 visas and Mr Javid appears to agree. We are likely to see substantial changes to Tier 2. This should open it up to medium skilled workers and minimise the administrative burden for employers wanting to use the system. This will be achieved by dropping the minimum skill level for Tier 2 back down from NQF level 6 (degree level) to NQF level 3 (GCSE level).
  • Low skilled workers – The most controversial section of news, is that there will not be a general provision for low skilled workers in the new immigration system. The MAC rejected the idea, saying that it did not see how it benefited the UK economy.
  • Extension of the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme.
  • British Nationals will need a visa – It is likely to mean that British nationals will need to apply for US-style travel authorisation before they travel, as will EU nationals who visit the UK.

All of the points above may be softened depending on the future trade deals with non-EU countries after Brexit. The upcoming Immigration White paper and Immigration Bill will help us ascertain whether these conclusions are close to the mark, until then we are still uncertain as to what the future may hold post 2020.

If you require assistance with any legal immigration matter, please contact Sugina Mehra or Misbha Ali in the Immigration Team at The Sethi Partnership Solicitors.

Dr Sugina Mehra


Dr Sugina Mehra – Head of Immigration & Criminal
T: (0)20 8866 6464

Misbha Ali


Misbha Ali – Solicitor Residential & Commercial Conveyancing/Immigration
T: (0)20 8866 6464

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“This document is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given.”