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The UK's Crackdown On Illegal Immigrants : What Does This Mean For Visas?

Posted: 10/11/2017              Author: Santa Fe Relocation

The crackdown on the UK’s illegal immigrants is impossible to ignore. With the knowledge that banks and building societies alike have been required to carry out immigration checks on 70million current accounts since January, it’s easy to see that this is one of the biggest extensions of plans to create a ‘hostile environment’ for illegal immigrants in Britain. Through this, the Home Office expects to find over 6,000 visa overstays, including failed asylum seekers and national offenders from abroad, facing deportation within the first year of the extensive checks alone. But how will this affect visas?

Although the government plans to sustain visa-free travel to the UK for EU visitors once the UK has officially departed from the European Union, visitors from EU countries who want to work, study or settle in the UK will be required to apply for permission under the proposals. Here, we explore this in more detail.

EU citizens in the UK after Brexit

Under the proposed plans of Brexit, EU nationals who have spent five or less years in the UK are required to apply for a residency document over a two-year period through the Home Office. This will apply to family members and partners who live in the UK from the cut-off day. However, according to UK Prime Minister Theresa May, those living in the UK in line with the law for over five years could be granted ‘settled status’ and can continue to live, work and claim benefit just as they are able to now. She strongly expressed that no family will be split up, as outlined in a 15-page document describing the Government’s offer on citizen rights. After Brexit, EU workers moving to the UK will be required to register until a permanent immigration policy is put into place.

Whilst EU citizens are currently able to live and work in the UK without a permit, this could all change. Whilst it is up to the EU to decide whether the offer of visa-free travel should be reciprocated, they are also working on a travel authorisation scheme for people visiting the EU, much like the US ESTA visa-waiver scheme.

Working in the UK

Several businesses will be forced to recruit within the UK before seeking new high-skilled employees abroad which will especially affect employers in industries such as agriculture. The agriculture industry heavily relies on low-skilled seasonal workers, and so would undoubtedly be one of the worst hit by the proposed immigration regime - bringing any migrants into the UK for the purpose of work will be far more difficult and potentially not as cost effective. As well as this, employers may be required to undertake a local labour market test before employing an EU migrant, to ensure preference is handed to resident workers first and foremost. With the UK being the third most popular country in the world in regards to international careers, as shown by Santa Fe Relocation’s 2017 Global Mobility Survey, Brexit could have an increasingly negative impact on the number of multinational employees looking for an international assignment in the UK.

Although exactly what the UK’s crackdown on illegal immigrants means for visas remains unclear. It’s difficult to make assumptions before a deal with the EU has been made, though there are certainly still employment aspects businesses need to consider before the restrictions of Brexit swing into action on Friday 29th March 2019. Brexit is likely to impact global mobility programmes, which will make it harder for businesses to source employees from the global talent pool due to stricter visas. The most significant potential change could be that EU citizens, who don’t currently need a residence visa and work permit today, may need one in the future. It could also significantly impact an EU-based organisation’s talent strategy and decisions about investing in Britain further. If immigration and cross-border relocation pose an additional challenge to what is already a complex process, organisations may opt to source talent locally instead for ease.

How Can Santa Fe Help?

Here at Santa Fe, we can provide you with all of the latest, most up-to-date information relating to the status of Brexit and its impact on global mobility. In addition to this, we can help to ensure that all visa information is correct and in place, prior to your assignee heading to the UK, or any other country for that matter, to begin employment on their international assignment.

The visa application process for the UK is likely to become much more difficult as Brexit negotiations cease and actions are implemented. This is where we come in. We can talk your assignee and your entire global mobility department through the latest visa changes as soon as they are applied, in order to ensure that your assignees face very few issues when it comes to moving to the UK.

If you would like to find out more about how Brexit is going to impact UK businesses and their employment strategies, please get in touch with a member of our friendly expert team today.