The British Government has confirmed that there will be a requirement for European Union citizens coming to the UK to register during the Brexit implementation period.
The Home Office said that the precise details of the implementation period are currently being negotiated with the EU, but planning is well under way and it will be up and running by the 29 March 2019.
It means that officials will be registering EU citizens already living in the UK for permanent residency and separately track new arrivals during the Brexit transition period.
Brussels had demanded anyone who arrives in Britain during the transition period, when free movement will effectively continue, should be treated exactly the same as people already in the UK, including gaining rights to stay for the longer term.
However, Prime Minister Theresa May has already indicated her opposition to this. As far as the Government is concerned any EU citizens who arrive before 29 March 2019 will be able to apply for settled status but those who arrive after will not, including during a transition period.
The status of British citizens in EU countries will be the same. All will have access to the health service of each country within the EU. It is estimated that around three million EU citizens currently live in the UK and they will need to be registered by March 2019. This work is currently underway.
But there has been a call for a lighter touch for some people and a stricter regime for others post Brexit. According to David Goodhart, head of demography, immigration and integration at think tank the Policy Exchange, there should also be continuity for students and tourists.
In a new analysis report he suggests that there should be a customised light touch work permit system for EU professionals and priority for low skilled workers ready to work antisocial hours, thereby acting more as complements than direct competitors to the British workforce.
He also says that future immigration policy should bear down on low skilled migration while openness and continuity should prevail in other areas. Visa free travel should continue for short visits from the EU and conditions should remain broadly the same for tourists and students, including the same tuition fee arrangements for EU as for UK students.
He calls for the Migration Advisory Committee to work with industries that have become heavily dependent on low skilled EU workers to help manage the transition to lower dependence and says that EU citizens coming to the UK for employment should in future need work permits, with a presumption of five years for professionals and two years for low skilled workers.
‘A Brexit without a clear end to free movement in its current form is neither possible nor desirable as it was clearly one of the biggest single factors behind the Brexit vote. One of the problems with freedom of movement is that it has created a new category of resident: someone who is neither a temporary visitor, such as a tourist, nor someone who is making a permanent commitment to a new country in the manner of the traditional immigrant. Many of those taking advantage of free movement in recent years have enjoyed the rights of the latter with the attitude of the former,’ Goodhart said.
‘Whilst we welcome an end to freedom of movement, a good post-Brexit immigration deal should maintain a lot of continuity in the movement of people, especially for students and professionals, and we can open up several new temporary work routes. There’s no reason for arrangements to change around tourists and students from the EU, but we do need to see a general reduction in the number of low skilled workers,’ he explained.
‘The Government, in partnership with industry and the Migration Advisory Committee, needs to set out how they will gradually reduce low skilled immigration from the EU, whilst maintaining a route for workers coming to do jobs with antisocial hours,’ he added.