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1. The White Paper sets out the future migration system post-Brexit and post-implementation.

It is not due to come into play anytime soon. In fact, it will be introduced with a phased approach with a “view to implementation from 2021.” The big question remains… what happens in the case of no-deal? We expect the proposed system to remain the same as it would be practically impossible to have this ready by 29th March 2019, so don’t expect a cliff edge migration policy.


2. There will only be one single system for skilled workers to come to the UK. There is no preferential treatment for EU nationals.

The new skilled route will apply in the same way to both EU and non-EU nationals and the cost to businesses will be the same to employ an EU worker or one from the rest of the world. This cost will be up to £3,000 per employee for the visa and Immigration Skills Charge and the Health Surcharge which are all required.

3. The definition of “skilled” has been expanded, meaning employers can continue to recruit EU workers from below graduate level.
Under the current non-EU system employers can only recruit workers in job roles skilled to RQF Level 6 and above (also known as graduate level). Under the new system, the skilled route will also apply to those job roles at RQF 3-5. This is a huge win for EEF and its members and it means employers can recruit engineering and science technicians from across the globe.
4. The £30,000 minimum salary threshold is not set in stone – it is up for discussion.

Much of the media attention focused on the proposal to set the minimum salary threshold (that is the minimum amount an EU or non-EU national would need to be paid to then work in the UK under the skilled route). However it is worth looking closely at the wording in the White Paper that acknowledges that the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) recommended this rate but the Government will continue consult further with business before coming to a final decision. From our perspective the 30,000 figures too high and would undo the business benefits seen elsewhere in the White Paper. We will be speaking out very loudly on this point during the consultation phase.


5. There will be no cap on the number of skilled workers coming to the UK.

Currently there is a cap on the number of non-EU nationals coming to the UK, which is set at 20,700 then split into monthly allocations. EEF has continued its calls to scrap the cap and the White Paper does just that. There will be no annual cap allowing skilled workers from around the world to be recruited by UK employers.

6. There will be a transitional route for low-skilled workers.

For a transitional period there will be a route for low-skilled workers which will allow jobseekers to come and find work in the UK for a period of 12 months.  There are some conditions around this, including the route only being open to workers from “low-risk countries” and a 12 month cooling off period. The cooling off period means that that person would then be unable to return to work in the UK for at least 12 months after their initial 12 months had expired.

7. The time-consuming Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) will be abolished.

Currently an employer wanting to recruit from outside of Europe has to undertake the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) which requires them to advertise the job vacancies for at least 28 days. We have found that this doesn’t tend to result in posts then being offered to the domestic labour market and simply slows down the process for finding the right person elsewhere. We are pleased to say that in the new system, this will be abolished.

8. There will be a post-study work route for 6 months for all international students.

Another area EEF has been vocal on is international students. Around a third of engineering undergraduates are non-UK students increasing to about 70% for engineering postgraduates. The current system gives little time for graduates to seek employment before returning to their residing country. In the future system they will have six months, which isn’t quite the 24 months we had under the current system, but at least is a starting point.

9. There will be costs that many manufacturers will not have been exposed to before.

Currently only 9% of manufacturers specifically recruit from outside the EU, which means the vast majority won’t have been exposed to the costs that accompany navigating a migration system. In the post-Brexit system, employers who want to recruit a skilled EU or non-EU worker will have to pay some hefty costs including visa fees, the Immigration Skills Charge and the Health Surcharge. Add to that the internal resource or external advice they may need – all of this adds up. We are particularly concerned about the impact this may have on small businesses.

10. EEF will continue to feed in your views to Government and can support you through Brexit.

The Immigration White Paper is subject to further consultation. We will be feeding in the views of our members throughout this process with a particular focus on that thorny issue of a minimum salary threshold and the cost implications businesses will face when recruiting from outside the UK. We also know that keeping up with all the Brexit announcements and knowing what your business should be doing is tricky. That’s why we have dedicated Brexit Hub and also a Brexit Toolkit which gives you everything you need to know. Our simple step-by-step guide tells you what your company should be doing now around trade, migration and regulation.


Blog / Leaving the EU / Policy / White paper