Dr. Sarah Kyambi: New possibilities provided by the end of free speech


THE end of free movement is a historic moment, as all labour migration to the UK will be conducted by the UK immigration system for the first time in decades.

Nevertheless, the previous year’s unparalleled chaos and the extent of transition that leaving the EU would bring suggests that plans for this new immigration regime seem to have fallen by the wayside.

An report by Migration Policy Scotland, a new independent think tank, finds a troubling lack of government and business preparation for the new immigration system, which may further delay economic recovery.

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Free movement is ending today, and EEA or Swiss nationals are currently in the United Kingdom. In order to remain under the EU Settlement System, they have until 30 June to apply.

They will forfeit their right to live in the UK if they fail to do so. It will also be possible for travelers from the EEA or Switzerland to enter and leave without a visa, even for short trips and holidays. And as part of the Common Travel Area, Irish nationals would be excluded. However, the main change is that EEA and Swiss nationals will no longer be able to come to work or study in the UK.

Instead, those moving to the U.K. through the current immigration scheme, Either the Global Talent Path, the Professional Worker Route, a variety of Temporary Worker Routes (for particular occupations in the religious, artistic or sporting fields) or the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Scheme would have to apply for jobs.

The Professional Worker route is the most significant route. This allows those with a job offer that meets the qualification and wage thresholds of the Home Office (£ 25,600) to come to the UK to work as long as the potential migrant speaks English at the appropriate standard and has a sponsor license for the potential employer.

The additional criteria associated with obtaining and keeping a sponsor license are one challenge with the new system.

Initially, the UK government acknowledged the difficulty of extending the scheme of employer sponsorship to include all labor migration to the UK.

A study and overhaul of the sponsorship scheme was proposed back in 2018 to make it less difficult to manage for employers, not least because failure to adequately navigate the system raises the risk of fines and other penalties.

The modifications to the scheme, however, were small. For smaller businesses, which are likely to have less personnel resources, the administrative and cost pressures of the professional sponsorship system face greater difficulties.

This puts Scotland at a greater disadvantage than other United Kingdom nations, as Scotland has the greatest proportion of small and medium-sized enterprises (28 percent of Scottish businesses employ fewer than 50 workers, compared with 23 percent in England).
The Scottish government has objected to the differential effects of the new post-Brexit immigration scheme.

A single pay threshold across the UK ensures that continuing to hire migrant workers would be easier for places with higher wages.

Broadly speaking, this means that it will be easier for London and the southeast of England to meet the wage requirements, whereas rural, remote areas will often suffer the most. For now, the Home Office has not accepted calls for the new framework to take regional variations into account.

However, with the use of shortage occupation lists, the current system has the potential for more geographic inequalities. Occupations recognized as shortage occupations by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) may be included in shortage occupation lists to facilitate lower-wage recruitment of migrant workers (minimum £ 20,040).

Under this scheme, decentralized country-specific occupation shortage lists allow regional variations to be identified, but much depends on whether this choice is actively used.

In the U.K. Given the labor market volatility, the government has waited to recognize MAC guidelines for shortage occupations.

Labor demand is difficult to forecast at this time, but there are signs that neither the government nor corporations are a positive thing.


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