NEWS / Blog / A skills based approach...


20 DEC 2018


Julian Francis blogs on the government's white paper on immigration


he long awaited government White Paper on immigration was launched yesterday and sets out the governments approach to immigration following our withdrawal from the EU in March 2019. Promoted as the biggest win for the prime minister in her negotiations with the EU, controlling the UK’s boarders and by extension who can live and work here is a key part of the Brexit strategy.

For such an important document there is little new contained within it as it seeks to implement the recommendations of the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) that came out earlier in the year. The White Paper proposals will, in line with the recommendations made by MAC:

  1.            Remove the annual cap on the number of work visas issued

  2.            Widen the skills threshold to include people with qualifications equivalent of A levels

  3.            Ends the requirements for labour market tests by employers wanting to sponsor a worker

The basis of the scheme will be a skills based approach that will see all migrants treated the same regardless of their point of origin. It will also seek to promote migration in sectors of the economy where there is need while discouraging what the government sees as opportunistic migration without secure employment. 

For this reason the government is proposing to remove the the current cap on the number of skilled workers such as doctors or engineers from the EU and elsewhere to ensure that the national economic needs as set out in the Industrial Strategy are met. 

More controversially the MAC argued for a minimum salary requirement and rather than accept that outright the White Paper will implement a consultation on a minimum salary requirement of £30,000 for skilled migrants seeking five-year visas

Low-skilled workers may be able to apply for short-term visas of up to a year. The 12-month visa will provide access to the labour market, but no access to benefits. People arriving on this route will not be able to bring family members with them, won’t accrue rights to settle in the UK and will have a 12-month cooling off period once their visa expires. These proposals will be discussed with business as part of the extensive engagement programme planned.

The White Paper proposals will also ensure there is no limit on the number of genuine international students, who can come to the UK to study. Proposals extend the time they can stay post-study to find employment to six months for those who have completed a bachelor’s or master’s degree and 12 months for those who have completed a PhD.

The government plans to phase in the new system from 2021 following an extensive 12-month programme of engagement with businesses, stakeholders and the public by the Home Office.

In the interim, EU Settlement Scheme will operate. 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. 

ACE will continue to engage the Home Office on behalf of our members to ensure that the new migration system meets the needs of member firms. If you have any concerns related to the proposed system please get in touch and let’s us know so we can shape our response accordingly. 

Julian Francis

Julian Francis

Previously Director of External Affairs

Julian was previously a Director at ACE.