Is the Existing UK Immigration System Prepared to Deal with a No-Deal Brexit?

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The UK Government's 2018 White Paper calling for a reworked immigration system seems more hot-button than ever. With the looming no-deal Brexit, the Home Office will have to make a revolution in the UK immigration regime under the stringent deadlines.

The implementation of Brexit is a complex task for the Home Office and the immigration courts and tribunals. It requires the resources and infrastructure that the UK government seems unable to provide under the current circumstances.

According to the agreement reached by Theresa May, free movement from the EU would have remained in force until December 31, 2020. The new Home Secretary Priti Patel stated that it would terminate right on October 31, 2019, in case of a no-deal Brexit.

That said, the EU Withdrawal Bill aimed to put an end to free movement has little chance to pass the Commons and Lords and receive Royal Assent until October 31. Anyhow, the expected time of arrival for the new UK immigration system is January 2021. New rules, rights and revised guidelines should be thus designed and put into practice before the end of 2020. 

The government now proposes a new regime similar to the Australian points-based programme that would focus on the migrants’ skills as a decisive factor for eligibility. The new immigration system would greatly enhance the remit of the Home Office and the courts. 

The changes apply for both EU nationals entering the UK after Brexit and those who are already in the country. Those who are in the UK must register under the EU Settlement Scheme to ensure a legal stay after the UK leaves the EU. EU nationals who remain unregistered may became illegal after Brexit. 

The UK’s current immigration infrastructure lacks both funds and resources to process the aftermath of Brexit. There are huge delays in immigration hearings as well as technical troubles and flawed decision-making at the Home Office. Processing of applications has become a cumbersome and slow procedure. In the year to March 2019, over one half of immigration appeals were rejected. Applicants scarcely have any rights to appeal so they blame the Home Office in the press and all available media channels. 

Stats provided by the Home Office in March 2019 reveal that an average processing time of immigration appeals is now up to 47 weeks. Whereas technology could help address the issue, the Home Office falls behind in the digital era and shows low integration with other departments like HMRC or DWP. The Home Office could resort to outsourcing, yet its £91 million arrangement with UKVCAS for application processing has been generating issues since its launch in late 2018.

As the courts system and the Home Office fail to meet the growing demand, the global community gets increasingly concerned over the practical implications of Brexit.

Astons is a leading global immigration advisory firm with offices in London, Moscow, Dubai, Cyprus and China and offers residency & citizenship investment solutions in the UK,  EU & the Caribbean. Astons is a committed and regulated Member of the Investment Migration Council (IMC), for EU & Caribbean investment immigration.  

For further information or to discuss your personal circumstances in a private consultation, please contact Astons at info@astons.com or call +44 207 292 2977.