Immigration. Travel. Living.

The impact of Brexit on immigration to the UK

Brexit, which refers to the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union, has had a significant impact on immigration to the UK. Before Brexit, as a member of the EU, the United Kingdom was part of the single market, which allowed for the free movement of people among EU member states. EU citizens had the right to live and work in the UK without restrictions. However, with Brexit, there have been notable changes in immigration policies and regulations.

Flag of the Great Britain - Brexit

End of free movement

One of the core principles of the European Union is the free movement of people, which allowed EU citizens to live, work, study, and retire in any EU member state. However, after Brexit, the UK ceased to be an EU member state and subsequently ended the free movement of people. This change means that EU citizens no longer have an automatic right to move to the UK for employment or other purposes.

Points-based system

The United Kingdom introduced a new points-based immigration system, which applies to both EU and non-EU citizens. The system prioritizes skills, qualifications, and other factors that contribute to the nation’s economy. Points are awarded based on various criteria, such as having a job offer from an approved employer, meeting English language requirements, possessing relevant educational qualifications, and meeting minimum salary thresholds. The system aims to attract individuals with high skills and talents that are beneficial to the country.

Reduced EU immigration

The end of free movement and the implementation of the points-based system have led to a decrease in EU immigration to the country. EU citizens now need to apply for visas under the new immigration rules if they wish to work or live in the UK. These additional requirements, such as securing a job offer that meets specific criteria, salary thresholds, and satisfying language requirements, have made it more challenging for EU citizens to move there. Consequently, the number of EU citizens arriving in the country for work or other purposes has declined.

Increased non-EU immigration possibilities

Brexit has allowed the United Kingdom to reshape its immigration policy and potentially increase immigration from non-EU countries. The government has expressed an intention to attract highly skilled workers from around the world to fill gaps in the labor market. This includes implementing immigration routes such as the global talent visa. This visa allows talented individuals in various fields to work and live in the nation without a job offer, provided they meet specific criteria. Additionally, the introduction of a points-based system for EU and non-EU citizens has created a more uniform immigration framework.

Changes to family reunification

Brexit has also brought changes to family reunification rules for EU citizens in the United Kingdom. EU citizens who were living in the UK before the end of the Brexit transition period (December 31, 2020) had the opportunity to bring their family members to join them. However, they must meet specific criteria, such as demonstrating a certain level of income and relationship requirements. These changes aim to ensure that family reunification is controlled and follows a similar framework to non-EU family migration rules.

Impact on businesses and sectors

Certain industries in the United Kingdom have traditionally relied heavily on EU workers, such as agriculture, hospitality, and healthcare. The end of free movement and tighter immigration controls have resulted in labor shortages in these sectors. The UK government has introduced temporary visa schemes like the seasonal workers pilot, enabling agricultural businesses to hire seasonal workers from abroad for up to six months, addressing labor challenges. These measures aim to ensure the continued functioning of sectors heavily dependent on foreign labor.

The Irish border and common travel area

The UK and Ireland maintain a common travel area (CTA), which predates their membership in the EU. The CTA ensures the free movement of people between the two countries, regardless of Brexit. This means that Irish and UK citizens maintain reciprocal rights, allowing them to live and work in each other’s countries without visa requirements or additional immigration restrictions. The CTA has helped mitigate some of the immigration-related impacts of Brexit, particularly concerning the movement of people between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

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