The UK’s future skills-based immigration system

The Government has published its guidance on the future of the UKVI’s new reformed immigration system:

  1. During the Implementation Period, Home Office will implement the EU Settlement Scheme. This gives EU citizens already here, and also those who arrive in the UK during the Implementation Period, the opportunity to secure their future residence in the UK. The UK has agreed with the EU on rights for EU citizens already living in the UK and UK nationals living in the EU, to enable them to carry on with their lives broadly as now. The Government is finalising arrangements with negotiating with European Free Trade Association (EFTA) States – Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland – to bring about similar arrangements for their citizens.
  2. The Government has made clear that the CTA and associated rights between the UK, Ireland and the Crown Dependencies will be unaffected by the UK’s exit. Irish and British citizens will continue to enjoy the freedom to travel within the CTA without the need for immigration controls or residence/work permits. Irish citizens do not need to obtain settled status in the UK.
  3. The UK will leave the EU on 29 March 2019. There will be an Implementation Period, planned to run until 31 December 2020, during which current rules will continue to apply. During that time, EU citizens will be able to enter and reside under the terms of the UK Regulations which implement the current, pre-Exit rules. EU citizens and their family members who wish to remain in the UK after the end of the Implementation Period must apply for the EU Settlement Scheme. They have until June 2021 to do so, if the Implementation Period ends on 31 December 2020.
  4. After the UK’s exit and following the Implementation Period, Home Office will end the current free movement system imposed by the EU so that the UK Immigration Rules will apply to EU and non-EU migrants alike in a single skills-based system, as opposed to being based on where an individual comes from, where anyone who wants to come to the UK will need permission to do so, as opposed to being based on where an individual comes from.
  5. Youth Mobility Scheme after the UK leaves the EU, may decide to include EU nationals. This will allow a 2 years permit free employment.
  6. Home Office do not intend to require visitors who are citizens of current EU Member States to obtain a visit visa in advance of travel and they intend to allow them to continue to use e-gates to make entry quick and easy. Home Office propose to make binding commitments to this effect in a future mobility partnership, if the EU reciprocates. Tourists will continue to enjoy a generous entitlement to spend up to six months in the UK. Visitors coming to the UK for short-term business reasons will be able, as now, to carry out a wide range of activities, including permitted paid engagements.
  7. Under the future system following the Implementation Period, those coming to the UK, including EU citizens, who intend to work or study or join family will need permission to do so, normally in the form of an electronic status which must be obtained before coming to the UK. This means everyone coming the UK will have an individual immigration status which will form the basis of our immigration controls. This status will be communicated to airlines to confirm whether an individual has permission to travel, checked at the UK border (by either a Border Force officer or an e-gate), and then form the basis of in-country immigration checks.
  8. Following the recent MAC report on students, Home Office intend to improve the current offer to those who have completed a degree who want to stay on in the UK to work after they have completed their studies, by offering six months’ post-study leave to all master’s students, and bachelor’s students studying at an institution with degree awarding powers – giving them more time to find permanent skilled work and to work temporarily during that period. Those who have completed a PhD will have a year. Home Office will also allow for students studying at bachelor’s level or above to be able to apply to switch into the skilled workers route up to three months before the end of their course in the UK, and from outside of the UK for two years after their graduation.

Further updates to follow. If you would like to seek legal advice from ICS Legal, please email us at or call us on 0207 237 3388. You can also complete our free assessment by clicking here