The outcome of the EU referendum is now known and we are to leave.
Immigration was a key referendum issue. The leave campaign promoted principles for the migration of skilled workers, not favouring EU migrants over non-EU migrants, with an “Australian style” points system. It is not clear however how or whether this will be implemented. Indeed the UK already has a points based system for work and investor categories.
The Government has said that there will be no immediate changes. However, negotiations will soon begin to achieve the UK’s exit.
Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon provides the legal basis for a member of the EU to exit. It gives a timescale of 2 years for this process once it formally commences. It is not yet clear whether this will indeed be how long the process takes.
The impact on UK Immigration Law and Human Rights provisions is also not yet clear. UK immigration law comprises both domestic law which affects British and non-EU nationals and EU law which affects EU nationals. Whilst EU nationals clearly will be facing changes, as will British nationals who live in the EU, how immigration policy will develop for non-EU nationals is unclear. Will there be a more liberalised approach to non-EU migration as some in the leave camp have suggested? Will businesses that rely on access to the EU markets for workers be told they have to adapt or will they be able to recruit more non-EU migrants to fill skills gaps?
It appears probable that, whatever the timescale or changes to laws, complex transitional arrangements will need to be agreed for those EU nationals already living and working in the UK and also for British nationals in the EU.
As the situation becomes clearer, we will be able to advise you on the implications for you and for your business.