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JCWI and Global Future release new reports on Brexit's impact on immigration


JCWI recommends changes to settled status, Global Future examines White Paper immigration system

Date of Publication:
13 February 2019

JCWI and Global Future release new reports on Brexit's impact on immigration

13 February 2019

With 44 days to go until Article 50 expires and the final outcome still uncertain, two new reports this week look at Brexit's impact on immigration.

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) released an 18-page briefing on settled status for EEA nationals which you can read here.

As the briefing notes, the Government's EU Settled Status Scheme is designed to implement the promise that all EEA citizens and dependants living in the UK on or before March 29, 2019 will be entitled to remain in the country without any diminishment of their rights.

JCWI believes that the Government should have implemented a declaratory system, whereby legal status would automatically be granted to all eligible EEA citizens. In contrast, the Government's non-declaratory system requires EEA nationals to apply to the Home Office in order to obtain permission to remain, which may be granted or denied.

The briefing states: "JCWI advocates a simple declaratory system whereby all EEA citizens in the UK will be considered to be legally resident which is managed through mandatory registration. The scheme should be managed within a realistic timeframe – at least five years. JCWI advocates the simplicity and cost-effectiveness of a declaratory system at a time when the Government is balancing the many challenges thrown up by the UKs exit from the EU. Most, if not all, EU countries will be adopting this declaratory approach."

In the briefing, JCWI recommends a number of changes that could be made to the operation of the existing non-declaratory system to ensure that the minimum possible number of people find themselves undocumented and unable to obtain the status they are eligible for.

JCWI warns: "This is the largest programme of immigration documentation in British history and it is being attempted within a short, self-imposed, deadline. This deadline creates two cliff-edges, where tens, or potentially hundreds, of thousands of people will lose their legal right to be in the country. These people will be subject to the policies of the hostile environment, losing the right overnight to healthcare, to work, rent property or open bank accounts. They will be at risk of detention and deportation."

Green Party MP and co-leader Caroline Lucas called JCWI's report "important and timely" and she called on ministers to change their approach to the settled status scheme.

Meanwhile, the think-tank Global Future released a new report on Monday looking at the cost of the Government's proposed post-Brexit immigration system as outlined in its White Paper published in December.

You can read the report online here.

Global Future says the overall effect of 'closing the door' to free movement will be to hold Britain back and make the country poorer than it otherwise would have been.

The report focuses on five less well-established effects of Brexit on immigration, namely:

  • Red tape: "For the first time, tens of thousands of European workers will need to navigate the intense bureaucracy of the Home Office's visa system – costing their employers £1.14bn in five years. Hundreds of billions of pounds would churn from key public services back to the Home Office. And if the NHS is allowed to recruit the migrant workers it says it needs, the health service alone could face £580m in costs."
  • The £30,000 salary threshold: "More than two thirds of jobs in the UK workforce wouldn't qualify as 'skilled' under the government's plans. The threshold would leave over 100,000 unfilled jobs in social care and nursing, and cause the total EU workforce to shrink by 2025 – making it very difficult for businesses to survive and expand."
  • The temporary worker scheme: "The proposed 12-month visas have been designed without considering the needs of the key sectors, like construction, which are most likely to use them. Their strict rules mean migrants will be discouraged from settling into the local community and prevented from mastering their work – leading to a risk of exactly the wage-undercutting and poor integration that opponents of immigration claim they are concerned about."
  • The hostile environment: "We show how the settled status scheme exactly mirrors the makings of last year's Windrush scandal – but on a much larger scale. The system is already creaking and will struggle to manage more than three million applications for fresh status. Even if it works, the new system will leave EU citizens with one of six different kinds of status, creating serious risks of confusion and error."
  • International students: "Our universities are a major British success story, and international students contribute nearly £15bn to the economy each year. But the White Paper creates vast new barriers for European students whilst doing nothing to help universities against competitors in countries like the US and Australia."

Global Future believes that free movement should be retained, though the report makes a number of recommendations to mitigate the "great harm on Britain's economy and society" if the Government remains committed to ending it.