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How will immigration change post-Brexit?

With a resounding majority of 364 seats, the Johnson administration will deliver on its promise of ‘getting Brexit done’. The government have further promised an end to freedom of movement and the introduction of an ‘Australian points-based system’. What this points-based system will look like is still unclear, but this blog post will re-examine conservative party pledges and outline what is likely to be the major changes to Britain’s immigration system.

An end to freedom of movement

The most dramatic reform to UK immigration will be the end of freedom of movement. There will be an initial transition period during which European nationals will be able to secure their immigration status. The government have also introduced the EU Temporary Leave to Remain (EU TLR) which will provide temporary leave for a period of 36 months.

EU nationals must have secured leave before the 31 December 2020 or may be subject to administrative removal. 

“The best and brightest”

Whilst the Conservative Party manifesto maintains that overall immigration numbers will come down, they have maintained that their goal will be “attracting the best and brightest”. This is through the introduction of new visa schemes.

Post Study Visa

In September of this year, Johnson’s administration announced a reversal of Theresa May’s decision to revoke the post-study work route. This allowed international graduates of any subject to continue their leave in the UK for a further 2 years after completion of their degree.

NHS Visa

The Conservative government have promised to create a new NHS visa which would allow qualified medical professionals, with a job offer from the NHS, a fast-track to entry with lower visa fees. The visa is reported to cost £464 which is half the price of the normal visa and a decision is aimed to be made within 2 weeks.  Furthermore, provisions will be made so that migrants will be able to repay this surcharge incrementally once they start have their wages in the UK.

“Bespoke visa schemes”

The Conservative party manifesto details plans for “bespoke visa schemes” to target talent migrants who would contribute to the UK. At the end of March 2019, the government created changes to Appendix W of the immigration Rules which introduced the innovator visa and start-up visa. These programmes aimed to make it easier for innovative businesses to come to UK and push the UK economy forwards. It looks likely that the government will continue to support these schemes and may expand them.

Immigration Healthcare Surcharge

The Conservative party manifesto has that migrants will need to contribute to the NHS and pay before they start receiving benefits. The issue with this statement is that all immigrants already contribute to the NHS as is required for applications to stay in the country for longer than 6 months. In January 2019, the immigration healthcare surcharge doubled from £200 to £400 a year, it would seem that this may increase even more in the following years.

Asylum and refugees

The Conservative government has maintained that they will continue to support asylum seekers and refugees but maintained that the ultimate aim is to help them return as soon as it is safe to do so. This was specified in the manifesto however the Conservative party have a notoriously poor record supporting asylum seekers.

Under Theresa May’s leadership, the Home Office continued to use outdated evidence to pursue ‘false asylum’ applicants. As a result, thousands of asylum seekers returned to states where they would face sexual violence, torture and many died.

It is likely that a crackdown on “false asylum” applicants will continue under the Johnson administration. 

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