As the Brexit transition period comes to a close, immigration has been one of the most debated topics between the European Union and the United Kingdom. The Withdrawal Agreement that was signed in January 2020 outlines the new rules for immigration between the EU and the UK.
One of the most significant changes is the end of free movement within the EU. EU citizens will no longer have the automatic right to live and work in the UK, and vice versa. Instead, a new immigration system has been introduced, which treats EU and non-EU citizens equally.
Under the new system, anyone wanting to come to the UK to work will need to apply for a Skilled Worker visa. This visa requires applicants to have a job offer from an approved employer, speak English at a certain level and meet a minimum salary threshold. The minimum salary requirement is currently set at £25,600, although some jobs that are in high demand, such as healthcare workers, may have a lower minimum salary.
There are also Youth Mobility Scheme visas available for young people from certain countries, allowing them to live and work in the UK for up to two years. This visa does not require a job offer, but applicants will need to meet certain eligibility criteria, such as being aged between 18 and 30 years old and having a certain amount of savings.
Family members of EU citizens who were living in the UK before 31 December 2020 can also apply for the new Settlement Scheme. This scheme allows them to stay in the UK indefinitely and continue working, studying or accessing healthcare as they were before Brexit. They will need to apply for settled or pre-settled status.
Settled status is granted to EU citizens who have been living in the UK for at least five years, while pre-settled status is granted to those who have been living in the UK for less than five years. Those with pre-settled status can apply for settled status when they reach the five-year threshold.
The new immigration rules will have a significant impact on businesses that rely on EU workers, such as the hospitality and construction industries. Employers will need to adjust to the new system and ensure that they are complying with the rules.
Overall, the Withdrawal Agreement immigration changes mean that EU and non-EU citizens will be treated the same when it comes to living and working in the UK. The new Skilled Worker visa and Youth Mobility Scheme visa will provide opportunities for people from around the world to come to the UK to work and contribute to the economy. However, it remains to be seen how the new system will work in practice and whether it will be flexible enough to meet the needs of businesses and workers alike.