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McGill & Co is a Scottish immigration law firm specialising in UK immigration, nationality and refugee law.

Brexit means Brexit : The Immigration and Social Security ( EU Withdrawal Bill ) 2019-2021

15 May 2020 Grace McGill Blog

As we looked at in our Blog of 20th April, Brexit means Brexit for the Westminster Government.

The EU withdrawal Bill which makes provision to end rights of free movement of persons under retained EU Law and to repeal other retained EU Law relating to immigration, is heading towards its second reading in the House of Commons on Monday 18th May 2020. The Second Reading is normally the first opportunity for a Bill to be debated and is the stage where the overall principles of the Bill are considered. If the Bill passes Second Reading it moves on to the Committee Stage.

The Bill has been described as ‘paving the way’ for the introduction of the new points-based system, the structure and detail of which will be introduced through changes to the Immigration Rules, rather than in primary legislation and quite rightly, some stakeholders are calling for Parliament to have a greater role in scrutinising immigration rule changes.

Alongside developing the new immigration system, the Home Office is simultaneously working on a comprehensive overhaul of the Immigration Rules and associated guidance. This was in recognition of the report earlier this year from the Law Commission: simplifying the Immigration rules which recommended a complete redrafting of the Rules with the aim of creating simplified and more easily accessible Rules that offer increased legal certainty and transparency for applicants.

So what does this new system look like?

The simple answer is no one knows! In February the Government published a policy statement, The UK’s points based immigration system policy giving some initial details of the new points-based system. It did not seek to provide full details of the new system or identify all the visa categories which will be rolled out. As with the current system for non-EU immigration, the new system is collectively referred to as a “points-based system”. But the information published so far suggests that only two of the specific categories in the new system are truly points-based, one will be a new route for highly-skilled workers without a job offer with the other being the route for sponsored skilled workers (the replacement for the current Tier 2 General visa).

The road ahead is far from clear and will be fraught no doubt,  with problems. But as the Bill heads towards its second reading, the House of Commons have produced a briefing paper CBP8911 on the new points based immigration system which gives an excellent overview of what issues are ahead of us in this brave new world.

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