What to expect from the new immigration White Paper?

Written by Judit Adorjan

Former Home Office Secretary Sajid Javid set out the plans for a new single, skills-based immigration system replacing free movement in a white paper published on the 19th of December 2018.

The aim of the future system is to have full control of migration and enable skilled, innovative and highly productive personnel to come to the UK to make a positive contribution to the economy and society.

The White Paper was based on independent evidence from the Migration Advisory Committee and frank conversations with individuals and businesses across the UK.


Since then multiple Brexit deadlines have been passed and many leading economists, financial experts and large businesses are warning that a no-deal Brexit could have a damaging impact on the UK. In addition, the cabinet, the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary have changed and they have a new focus on an Australian points-based system, which could make the 2018 Immigration White Paper redundant.

On the 22nd of January 2020 the EU Withdrawal Agreement went through its last stage, the ‘Consideration of Amendments’ and is now awaiting Royal Assent.


The following Lords amendments were turned down by the House of Commons: the right of settled and pre-settled EU citizens, eligible citizens under the EEA EFTA separation agreement and eligible citizens under the Swiss citizens’ rights agreement to receive a physical document to prove their right of residence in the UK; the implementation of a declaratory registration system for EU citizens whereby their rights will not be forfeit as a result of not meeting an arbitrary deadline for registration under the EU Settlement Scheme; the removal of ministers’ power to decide which European Court of Justice rulings can be disregarded by judges in their interpretation of the UK’s legislation and referred to the Supreme Court or the High Court of Justiciary.


The European Parliament will meet on the 29 January to debate the agreement, which sets out the terms of the UK leaving the EU, the rights of EU nationals’ resident in the UK and British expats on the continent as well as arrangements for Northern Ireland.

From 1 February 2020, the UK will enter into an 11-month transition period in which it will continue to follow EU rules. The transition period will come to an end on 1 January 2021, by which point negotiations on the future economic and security partnership will have hopefully been concluded.


The 2018 white paper sets out the new immigration arrangements in the event the EU leaders do not sign the Withdrawal Agreement.

At present the UK Immigration system admits only highly skilled workers from outside the EU and workers of all skill levels from the EU. This will be replaced with a single route giving access to highly skilled and skilled workers from all countries.

Although the Conservatives are proposing an Australian-style immigration system, if migrants score certain points for their qualifications, the Prime Minister has said the migrant will still need a job offer to enter the UK. If they meet the requirements, they will be able bring dependants, extend their stay and switch into other immigration categories. In some cases, settle permanently. There will be a wider skills threshold for the first time. This means anyone with the equivalent of A levels will be eligible under the new system. We are wondering if there will be any other route for those wishing to set up a business or will the current Innovator and Start-Up categories remain?

In last year’s report the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) recommended not to impose a cap on the number of skilled workers, to ensure employers have access to the skills that add most value to the UK economy. Plans include abolition of the resident labour market test as a condition of sponsoring a worker and more recently, the Prime Minister mentioned scrapping the £30,000 minimum salary threshold. Instead, the migrant’s earnings, English language skills, occupation and qualification will be taken into account.



Nationals of the lowest risk countries will be able to apply for a work visa in the UK. The new skilled route will include workers with intermediate level skills, at RQF 3-5 level (A level or equivalent) as well as graduate and post-graduate.

The MAC did not recommend a route specifically for low skilled workers. Therefore, the government proposes as a transitional measure, a time limited route for temporary short-term workers. They will be able to come for a maximum of 12 months with a cooling-off period of a further 12 months with no rights to extend their stay, switch to other routes, bring dependants or settle. Workers will be able to move between employers with no sponsorship requirement.

As this route is only a transitional arrangement to allow employers to implement changes, the government reserves the right to tighten the criteria, impose numerical caps if necessary or close the route if the economic conditions in the UK warrant that.


On 7th of December 2019 Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that he is planning to prevent lower-skilled workers moving to the UK unless there is a “specific shortage” of staff in their sector such as construction.


There is no intention to significantly change the rules for family migration and permanent settlement.

Free movement as it currently stands under EU Law will end. However, much of the free movement framework will remain in place under the European Union Withdrawal Act 2018 until Parliament passes primary legislation to repeal it.

The new White Paper is due from the Migration Advisory Committee next week.

Immigration arrangements do not apply to EU citizens resident here before 11pm on 31 January 2020 and their family members. These citizens have until the 31 December 2020 to regularise their status by applying to the EU Settlement Scheme.


Irish citizens are also exempt from these changes.

Law Commission recommends complete redrafting of immigration rules

According to the Law Commission’s report Simplification of the Immigration Rules, published on the 14th of January 2020, improvements to the way immigration rules are written and presented would make it easier for applicants to follow and save the government almost £70 million over ten years.

written by Judit Adorjan

The report calls for a total rewrite of the rules with the aim of creating simplified and more easily accessible rules that offer increased legal certainty and transparency for applicants. The last such exercise took place in 1994, over 25 years ago, and the current version of the rules has grown hugely and somewhat chaotically since then.

Why is change needed?

In recent years, a policy requiring the rules to be more prescriptive had been implemented, which made the rules longer and more complicated. Introduced in 1973 with 40 pages, by 2019 this had grown to over 1,100 pages. The structure is confusing, and the numbering system inconsistent. There is duplication and unnecessary repetition, all of which make it difficult for applicants.

What are the recommended changes?

The report’s 41 recommendations include improvements to the structure, drafting and maintenance as well as a twice-yearly limit to updates. These also extend to how the rules interact with supporting guidance and application forms.

Consultation on the simplification project launched this time last year and set out two possible approaches to the structure of the rules. The first was to put “common provisions” up front, followed by particular rules for each route. The second was the “booklet” approach i.e. to put all rules applying to a given route under one heading, even if that means a lot of repetition. The Law Commission has not indicated a choice between these two options in the final report.

The recommendations do not extend to changing any of the policies expressed in the rules. However, the report does recommend that “suitability for the non-expert user” be among the priorities when redrafting the rules. The Law Commission also suggests reducing the level of “prescription” in the rules, thus allowing caseworkers more flexibility to accept evidence required in support of the application.

The report also looks at how to stop this situation reoccurring and suggests that consultation with an informal review committee. The committee members could include Home Office civil servants, immigration practitioners and organisations representative of non-expert and vulnerable users of the rules and “could play an important role in controlling complexity and promoting consistency and certainty”.

The report goes on to say that “the publication of changes solely as a list of amendments and additions contributes to making the effect of changes difficult to understand”. Therefore, the remedy is for the future statements of changes to include a “Keeling schedule”.

What happens next?

Former Home Secretary Amber Rudd initiated the review by the Law Commission. It is unclear whether the current Home Secretary Priti Patel will implement the recommended changes. There has not been a formal response from the Home Office at this time.

90% of initial decisions reviewed under the EU Settlement Scheme overturned

As of 31 October 2019, more than 1.9 million applications to the EU Settlement Scheme that have been determined. Of these, 60% were granted settled status, 40% were granted pre-settled status and four applications were refused on suitability grounds. An incorrect decision could impact the terms by which EU nationals and their family members are able to reside and access services in the UK after Brexit.

written by Judit Adorjan


If a decision grants pre-settled status instead of settled status due to a caseworker error or an application is refused on eligibility grounds, the initial decision can be reviewed by a different official, but within the same department. This administrative review is the primary form of redress available for EU Settlement Scheme applicants if they believe they have received an incorrect decision.

An administrative review is not available against a decision where an application is refused on suitability grounds. In this case an application can be refused due to serious or persistent offending, non-exercise or misuse of rights in the Citizens Directive (Directive 2004/38) or where the applicant has provided false or misleading information in the application.


As opposed to other administrative review systems run by the Home Office, an administrative review allows individuals to submit further evidence, which will then be considered alongside their original application.

Statistics on administrative reviews for the EU Settlement Scheme show that 451 requests have been received as of 12 September 2019. This figure does appear to be relatively low in relation to the 885,000 decisions which may be eligible for challenge.

The statistics published reveal that 89.5% of decisions reviewed were overturned. Whilst this does imply that the automated data checks and initial decision makers are frequently making mistakes, the high success rate could suggest that the administrative reviews are working efficiently. However, the reconsidered decision could be attributed to the opportunity to introduce new evidence for the reviewer to consider. Therefore, it is possible the Home Office was accurate in the initial decision, but new evidence has led to that decision being overturned on review. This raises the concern that the initial application process does not inform applicants of the facility to submit supplementary evidence and the types of evidence required for the scheme.


The impact of the political parties manifestos on the immigration system

With a general election coming up on the 12th of December 2019, voters must decide which political party’s manifesto serves their country’s best interest.

As reiterated for months by Boris Johnson and the Tories, the key policy aim of a future Conservative government is to introduce a ‘firmer and fairer’ Australian-style points-based immigration system, which will prioritise people who:

  • have a good command of English
  • have no criminal convictions
  • are highly qualified
written by Judit Adorjan

The manifesto also confirms that, under this system, most people will still need a job offer to come to the UK. This indicates that the new points-based system will not replace the existing Tier 2 employer sponsorship system, but it will be an additional system to this.

The proposals feature new immigration routes to fill skills shortages, such as the post study work visa for graduates, the NHS visa, the science and technology visa and the Start-up visa.

Despite wanting to move away from specific net migration targets, the manifesto states that overall ‘numbers will come down’ and promises fewer low-skilled workers in the UK. Hence, there is unlikely to be much improvement on the visa options provided in the immigration white paper.

The new immigration system is meant to be ‘fairer and more compassionate’, although the manifesto states that the immigration health surcharge will increase to as high as £800 per person per year, implying further increases from the £625 announced previously.

EU nationals’ access to benefits and housing will also be limited in line with non-EU migrants.

The manifesto ignores criticism of the EU Settlement Scheme and states that the scheme fulfils its promise to European residents of “guaranteeing their existing rights”. https://www.freemovement.org.uk/conservative-manifesto-2019/

What does this mean for the UK’s immigration system?

The EU Settlement Scheme has been created by secondary legislation, which unlike an Act of Parliament, can be easily changed over time. The application system will turn legally residing EU citizens into “illegal immigrants” if they do not apply successfully by the deadline, leading to scenarios similar to those seen with the Windrush scandal.  EU Citizens would have no right to reside, to work, to rent, to get benefits or access free healthcare.

The solution is to introduce a declaratory registration system through an Act of Parliament which would confer automatic rights to EU citizens currently residing in the UK to continue to live and work in the UK after Brexit.

The Conservative immigration policy seems to be a promise to bring back a number of old visa routes, some of which were closed by the party as they were considered flawed and did not fulfil the aim of ‘attracting the brightest and the best’ to the UK. The fact that these have been presented as new ideas makes one hope that the criteria are different to avoid past mistakes.

Once free movement ends immigration from non-EU countries will have to significantly increase to ensure public services and industries can still be adequately staffed.

The Labour Party launched its election manifesto with a promise to maintain freedom of movement, whether the UK leaves the EU or not.

The leader of the party, Jeremy Corbyn says they will seek to securea sensible deal’ to leave the EU within three months of coming to power and then put that deal to a public vote with the option of a legally binding referendum on remaining in the EU.

EU nationals in the UK would be granted an automatic right to continue living and working in the country without having to apply under the government’s EU Settlement Scheme.

The promise for non-EU migration is to introduce a ‘human’ migration system that meets the skills and labour needs of the UK economy. It would extend family reunion rights to non-EU citizens and close two major immigration removal centres.


What does this mean for the UK’s immigration system?

Labour’s promise to maintain and extend free movement rights has been diluted and the end result is no clear vision of what a future immigration system under a Labour government will look like.

The manifesto criticises the Conservative net migration target and suggests a regulated labour market where “all workers have full and equal rights from day one”. But there is a lack of concrete proposals for what a future immigration system post-Brexit would look like and how industries in particular can continue to source the work they need.

The statement “our work visa system must fill any skills or labour shortages that arise” is not particularly illuminating. It seems to suggest that Labour have adopted the Conservative’s idea of an Australian points-based system and have potentially missed an opportunity to seize and reframe the immigration debate at a critical time.

The Liberal Democrats want to stop Brexit and save EU freedom of movement.

They are pledging to scrap right to rent checks, banking checks and upfront charging in the NHS.

It has also been said that they will get rid of “immigration checks” in the NHS, although it’s unclear if that means there will be no charging at all. Under a Liberal Democrat government illegal working will no longer be a criminal offence. But the party is silent on the employer right to work checks that came in under Labour.

Their plan is to invest in officers, training and technology to prevent illegal entry at Britain’s borders, assist seekers of sanctuary, combat human trafficking and the smuggling of people, weapons, drugs and wildlife.

The party wants to create a “firewall” to prevent public agencies from sharing personal information with the Home Office for the purposes of immigration enforcement and repeal the immigration exemption in the Data Protection Act 2018. They also plan to introduce a 28-day time limit for detention and close all but two detention centres. The fee for registering a child as a British Citizen is to be reduced from £1,012 to the cost of administration and there is to be a new route to regularisation for people who came to the UK as children.

Asylum seekers will have the right to work after three months and receive free English lessons. There will be no 16-hour rule around financial support for those with poor English and the party will provide more money for integration work in the community. The move on period for newly recognised refugees having to leave asylum accommodation is to be increased from 28 to 60 days.

The Liberal Democrats will fund community sponsorship schemes for refugees and aim to resettle 10,000 vulnerable adults and 10,000 child refugees from elsewhere in Europe over ten years.

They propose moving policymaking on work permits and student visas out of the Home Office and into the Departments for Business and Education. Their promise is to create a “flexible merit-based system” instead of Tier 2 and have committed to a 2-year post study visa.

The minimum income requirement for spouse and partner visas is to be scrapped.


What is missing from the Liberal Democrat manifesto?

You can’t prevent public agencies from sharing personal data with the Home Office, stop exploitation and hostility without decriminalising migration. In order to address racism and exclusion built into the system all fees for child applicants should be removed.

The resettlement commitment of refugees does not engage with the reality of the UK’s obligations.

Overall, while all parties are lacking vision for the future, there is a clear commitment from the Liberal Democrats to substantially reform the immigration system we have now.

Conservative Party plan US-style visas to enter the UK after Brexit

On the 1st of December 2019 Home Secretary Priti Patel announced her plan to introduce a new Electronic Travel Authorisation system (ETA). EU and Commonwealth visitors will need to apply for new US-style visas to enter the UK after Brexit.

The aim is to make it easier for border officials to screen arrivals based on pre-arrival data provided; count visitors into and out of the UK and to block potential threats from entering the UK. The Home Office will know how many people are in the country and who is overstaying their visa.

Reported by Judit Adorjan


EU citizens will no longer be permitted to use ID cards to enter the UK after a no deal Brexit, preventing criminals and illegal immigrants using fake documents. The EU ID cards, as travel documents, will be phased out by the end of 2020, requiring passports to be presented at UK borders. According to the EU border agency, Frontex, more than 7,000 people were detected trying to enter the bloc using fraudulent documents in 2016 – with most found trying to get into the UK.


After 31 December 2020 EU citizens will be able to evidence their right to work (or rent) in the UK using their passport or their digital status granted under the EU Settlement Scheme or under the European Temporary Leave to Remain Scheme.


In the light of the new proposals, EU citizens planning to travel to the UK who do not currently hold a passport are advised to apply for one as soon as possible.

Conservative Party plans include bringing in new powers to stop EU criminals at the border once the UK is no longer subject to freedom of movement rules. At present, under EU law, previous criminal convictions do not in themselves count as a reason to deny entry to or deport someone.

In regard to customs and border controls, future plans include risk-based, largely automated analysis of consignments entering the UK. There will be a mandatory collection of information on goods before they cross the border.

International students permitted to stay after graduation

After the announcement that the government will allow international students to stay in the UK for two years after graduation to find a job,
Online magazine Recruiter contacted Migrate UK for their comments.

Karendeep Kaur, Migrate’s senior immigration consultant, thinks that while the proposal is welcome news for recruiters and international students, some areas of the proposal still require clarification.

She asks, would this two-year, post study work style visa, be automatically added to a student’s visa from 2020, as with the original proposed plans from MAC [Migration Advisory Committee] from 2021 or will students need to apply for these two years upon completion of their course?

It has been suggested that there will be no cap on the numbers who can apply (unlike the current quota for restricted certificates of sponsorship), allowing the student to switch in country to a work visa. In addition, there has been no indication as to whether this is a ‘free for all’ or whether it will be limited to science, technology, engineering or mathematics degrees.

Read the full article here:

Shortage of occupation list expanded to include more jobs

With effect from 6th October 2019, the Home Office will include more jobs in the UK that qualify as a shortage occupation. The full list of eligible occupations will be published in Appendix K of the Immigration Rules.

The changes will be very welcome by employers who need to sponsor overseas workers under Tier 2 General of the Points Based System. Those vacancies that meet the shortage of occupation criteria will not need to undergo a Resident Labour Market test. Furthermore, qualifying jobs are awarded a high number of points under the monthly quota system which means that applicants have a very good chance of being awarded a Certificate of Sponsorship.

Jobs to be published on the forthcoming list include:

  • Engineering roles (SOC codes 2121, 2122, 2123, 2124, 2126, 2127, 2129, 2461)
  • IT business analysts and designers (2135)
  • Programmers and software development professionals (2136)
  • Web designers (2137)
  • Cyber security specialists (2139)
  • Medical practitioners (2211)
  • Veterinarians (2216)
  • Architects (2431)
  • Quantity Surveyors (2433)
  • Occupational Therapists (2222)
  • Graphic Designers (3421)

Thousands of Eu citizens still yet to apply for settled status. People Management speaks to Jonathan Beech

Published 17 January 2020. Francis Churchill reported.

Migrate UK was asked for their comments after Guy Verhofstadt, Brexit coordinator for the European Parliament, spoke on Radio 4’s Today programme 17 January.

Verhofstadt said it had been agreed that, even after the transition period, there would be no automatic deportation of EU citizens who had not applied for settled status. “There will always be people who don’t fulfill the procedures because they don’t even know they exist,” he said. “There will be a grace period… Even after the grace period there will be no automatic deportation.” 

He added there would be the possibility after that period for EU citizens to apply for settled status if they submitted reasons why they missed the initial deadline.

Jonathan Beech, managing director at Migrate UK, said there was still uncertainty over the future of the UK’s immigration system, and urged businesses to start advising their European employees to register for settled status if they had not done so already. He said this would be particularly important in the case of a no-deal situation at the end of the month. 

“There may only be a short window for EEA citizens to enter the UK to be able to reside and work without being subject to future UK immigration rules [in a no-deal scenario],” he said.

Looking beyond the end of the month, Beech said regardless of what is in the next immigration whitepaper, businesses should have until the end of next year to prepare. “But businesses will face an increase in costs associated with sponsoring EEA citizens entering the UK for work and long-term stay from next January,” he added.

“Should the current points-based system work, sponsorship and licensing process still be in place; existing sponsors must be compliant with the rules to avoid having licenses removed for non-compliance,” Beech said, adding that suspension or revocation of a licence could mean losing out on both EU and non-EU employees.

Read the whole article here:



Brexit: What will happen on 1 February 2020. Personnel Today speaks to Jonathan Beech

Published 17 January 2020

After much delay, the UK will leave the European Union at 11:00pm on 31 January. But with the arrangements for Brexit still unclear, how should employers be preparing for life outside the EU and will they see any immediate changes from February? Ashleigh Webber reports.

Migrate UK along with the AIRE centre, Faegre Baker Daniels and BDB Pitmans were all asked for their views.

Jonathan Beech, managing director at immigration law specialists Migrate UK told Personnel Today: “[the transition period] will be similar to the last couple of rounds of negotiating Brexit and the deal itself: should the UK leave the EU from 1 February 2020, then the immigration regime will only really change should there be a no-deal with any of the member states.”

“In this situation, those EU citizens entering the UK from a date (to be determined – but it could be 1 February 2020) will need to apply for Euro Temporary Leave to Remain which will provide three years of stay and allow work,” he says.

“Although there will be immigration rules changes expected through the year, as per normal, the new immigration system is expected to go live from January 2021. This coincides with a deal situation”.

Despite this, Beech warns it is still unclear whether all European citizens currently living in the UK are able to remain. “Employers need to encourage staff who haven’t yet done so to register under the EU Settlement Scheme by 31 December 2020 if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. This may be extended to 30 June 2021 if a deal is agreed.”

Jonathan Beech also warns employers to expect the cost of sponsoring overseas citizens to increase, both in the short term and for long-term stay beyond 31 December.

“Employers will need to think carefully about their annual Certificate of Sponsorship allocations from 6 April 2020 as this could overlap with EEA citizens requiring sponsorship from January 2021,” he explains.

Read the full article here:

Lawyer Monthly: General election results are in: What to expect for 2020

Published 2 January 2020

Lawyer Monthly spoke to a variety of experts in different industries and asked what was the main concern now the decision had been made what changes should we expect in 2020?

Migrate’s MD Jonathan Beech was asked for his thoughts.

“We do now need greater clarity from the newly elected Conservative Party on the UK’s immigration policy. Back in September, the Conservative home secretary asked the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to review how an Australian-style points-based (PBS) immigration system could be introduced in Britain to strengthen the UK labour market. But we’re still no clearer on how this new system would work in practice in the UK, and how this fits with the MAC’s much anticipated white paper review into minimum salary thresholds.”

“There may be a manor of implications for many employers, especially in sectors employing a high portion of EU nationals and that if the migration restrictions are poorly implemented without due understanding of the needs of affected industries they could have a negative impact on the country’s economy.”

“The new Conservative Government should look to introduce a declaratory registration system through an Act of Parliament which would confer automatic rights to EU citizens currently residing in the UK to continue to live and work in the UK after Brexit. Hopefully this is something the Conservative Party will now consider so we don’t see scenarios similar to those with the Windrush scandal.

Read the complete article here:

Employment experts react to Conservative election win – Personnel Today speaks to Jonathan Beech

Published 13 December 2019

Personnel Today sought out the opinions from employment experts covering pensions, immigration and employment policy.

Migrate UK’s managing director was asked for his opinion in regard to immigration.

Immigration and skills concerns as Brexit draws nearer

“We do now need greater clarity from the newly elected Conservative Party on the UK’s immigration policy. Back in September, the Conservative home secretary asked the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to review how an Australian-style points-based (PBS) immigration system could be introduced in Britain to strengthen the UK labour market. But we’re still no clearer on how this new system would work in practice in the UK, and how this fits with the MAC’s much anticipated white paper review into minimum salary thresholds.

The new immigration system is also meant to be ‘fairer and more compassionate’, although the Conservative’s election manifesto stated that the immigration health surcharge will increase to as much as £800 per person per year, implying further increases from the £625 previously announced.

EU nationals’ access to benefits and housing will also be limited in line with non-EU migrants, while there has been much criticism of the new EU Settlement Scheme which was ignored by the Conservative Party’s election manifesto. The settlement application system will turn legally residing EU citizens into ‘illegal immigrants’ if they do not apply successfully by the 31 December 2020 deadline.

The new Conservative government should look to introduce a declaratory registration system through an Act of Parliament that would confer automatic rights to EU citizens currently residing in the UK to continue to live and work in the UK after Brexit. Hopefully this is something the Conservative Party will now consider so we don’t see scenarios similar to those with the Windrush scandal”.