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How will Brexit impact the Freedom of Movement?

30 April 2019

For many years, citizens of both the UK and the EU have enjoyed the Human Right to the Freedom of Movement between the UK/EU border. However, post-Brexit, this right is bound to come to a halt, particularly for those wishing to immigrate for work purposes, as Britain leaves the EU and changes its immigration policies accordingly.

For instance, the UK government announced that the Freedom of Movement will come to an end in 2021, which is likely to impact the entire immigration sector when implemented. Those targeted will predominately be all prospective immigrants who are looking to come to the UK to work in low-skilled job roles, such as cleaners.

However, by targeting low-skilled workers in this way, the UK economy may be drastically impacted as it relies heavily upon workers from the EU to fill these job positions. The government has raised prospective alternatives in its initial White Paper released last year regarding the impact of Brexit on immigration, however whether these alternatives shall go through, given the uncertainty of Brexit itself, is another question altogether.

Some of the potential alternative routes for those wishing to come to the UK to work but cannot qualify for the Tier 2 Work Permit, may be able to apply for the ‘Youth Mobility Scheme’ (YMS) instead.

However, a notable setback to this alternative is that it is only a temporary scheme, whilst most EU workers would prefer to stay and work long-term. Furthermore, there is also an age restriction for those who can access the scheme, set from eighteen to thirty years old, which is a narrow margin considering the age range of applicants applying from all areas of the EU.

Given these setbacks, another alternative to immigration into the UK post-Brexit could be through the creation of a new ‘Work Permit Scheme’ under Tier 3 of the current Points-Based-System (PBS).

Although the Tier 3 visa was initially created for the use of low-skilled workers, it was never used and therefore could be a suitable alternative for all those wishing to immigrate without the requirements for the Tier 2 visa to do so. However, again, there are reasons why the Tier 3 visa route hasn’t been fully used since its inception and mostly this is because most employers are hesitant to tie themselves into sponsoring a low-skilled worker on a Tier 3 visa as the low-skilled sector itself can be viewed as disposable, unlike a long-term career choice and employment role.

Therefore, all low-skilled workers within the UK or all those wishing to immigrate to the UK post-Brexit are advised to be prepared for sudden changes to the immigration system which could impact their Freedom of Movement to the UK in foreseeable times to come.

Source - Hudson McKenzie

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