Home Office document leaked: post-Brexit immigration

A Home Office proposal on the status of EU nationals, post Brexit, has been leaked to the Guardian, on the 5th September. The Home Office paper, entitled the Border, Immigration and Citizenship System After the UK Leaves the European Union, is 82 pages long, is marked as extremely sensitive and is dated August 2017. It makes it clear that the proposals within it have yet to be endorsed by ministers, and are “subject to negotiations with EU”, however it does set out for the first time how the government intends to regulate the immigration system for EEA migration. We have spoken previously on the Home Office proposals for a new immigration system, but we now finally have more details.

In summary, the government will end the free movement of labour immediately after Brexit and introduce restrictions to deter all but highly-skilled EU workers

Whilst a government spokesperson has said “we do not comment on leaked draft documents,” we can still review the points made in the documents and come to our own conclusions.

We will go over the most concerning points made in the paper, to advise EEA migrants on their next steps:

  • The 3 Stages for introducing Immigration controls:

The Home Office confirmed this summer that they intend to introduce immigration controls gradually, to not leave EU nationals on a “cliff-edge.” The document says the transformation of the UK’s immigration policy will take place in three stages: the initial phase, before Brexit; followed by an implementation period of “at least two years”; and a final phase, when tough new rules will be put in place.

Up until the UK leaves the EU, free movement will still be in place, so EU migrants who wish to come to the UK, should enter before this date and apply for residence documents under the EEA Regulations. They will then have the luxury of two years, during the implementation stage to convert their residence documents under the new immigration system that will be introduced.

EU nationals can enter the UK after the Brexit date, but for an initial 3 or 6-month period. If they intend to stay longer, they must obtain a 2-year residence permit. These permits will be under a new model that will be introduced during the implementation period, this will be subject to new requirements. An important consideration for job seekers is that once free movement ends, they can only stay in the UK for longer than 3 (or 6) months, if they are carrying out specific activities, which will no longer include job-seeking. Job seekers will no longer be able to remain in the UK, for more than the initial 3 or 6-month period, unless they fulfil a specific income threshold as a self-sufficient person. A job-seeker should consider entering the UK prior to the Brexit date, to allow themselves enough time to find a job, so that when they are obligated to obtain a residence permit, they can apply based on being a worker. Residence permits will not be issued to job seekers during the implementation phase.

The final model for the future immigration system has not been confirmed, however the government are considering allowing highly skilled EEA migrants to apply for a 3 to 5-year residence permit during the implementation stage (rather than 2 years.) This is good news for highly skilled migrants, as they will be able to apply for just one residence permit before being eligible for Permanent Residency.

  • Border Control:

After the UK leaves the EU, EU identity cards will no longer be accepted at the UK Border, and EEA nationals will need to enter the UK using passports. This is an important consideration for EEA nationals. Many EEA ID cards have no expiry date (for example Greek ID Cards) so until this point, EEA nationals would have escaped having to apply for new ID Cards or new passports. All EEA nationals in the UK should apply for new passports, under the new system.

  • Fingerprints & Biometrics:

After Brexit, when applying for new residence permits, for the first time, the government are planning to ask EU nationals, after Brexit to give fingerprints and a digital photograph to apply for new residence permits.

  • EEA Family Members:

The Home Office plans to scrap EU rules on the rights of extended family members to reside in the UK. The new regime will restrict residency to partners, minor children and adult dependent relatives. Extended family members other than durable partners will no longer qualify as family members under new UK law. This is going to cause difficulty to persons who wish to reside in the UK with their grandparents and parents. If you intend to bring over a grandparent / parent, we would recommend bringing them over to the UK as soon as possible. This would give them around 4 years in the UK prior to them being obligated to obtain a residence permit under the new scheme. They will presumably then need to show an extra year of “self-sufficiency” before being eligible for Permanent Residency.

Further, if an EU national living in the UK wants to bring a family member from outside the EU here, he or she will have to earn a minimum of £18,600 a year, which is the same financial threshold as for British nationals. In this circumstance, we would also recommend bringing the family member over as soon as possible, to allow some extra few years to worry about meeting the financial requirement.

If you are concerned about yours or your family’s circumstances, you can contact UKVISAS for further advice or assistance and we would be happy to discuss further.

Sassa Karakatsianis, Immigration Specialist

September 19, 2017

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