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JCWI’s six recommendations for a post-Brexit immigration policy

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Posted on April 06th 2017

This new position paper looks at the shape of a post-Brexit immigration policy. It maps out the path that we think will complement an outward-looking and tolerant UK after Brexit. We highlight six areas which are ripe for reform, to ensure that the UK remains open, welcoming and fair to both EEA and non-EEA migrants coming here into the future.

The UK’s imminent exit from the European Union (EU) has seismic implications for immigration policy. Hundreds of thousands of European workers, students and family members currently migrate here every year. For over forty years, EU free movement law has protected the ability of EEA migrants and their family members to live, study and work in the UK.

But after the UK ceases to be a member of the EU, hundreds of thousands of European nationals coming here every year will be brought under domestic immigration control. Beyond this, the UK will embark on a series of new trade partnerships with countries around the world, with significant further implications for immigration policy.

Managing these changes will be highly complicated and could cause chaos for employers, universities and migrants. In our view, the only way forward is for the Government to take the lead now, ahead of Brexit, by mapping out and implementing bold reforms to immigration policy.

JCWI’s six recommendations for immigration reform:

  1. Reframe the UK’s immigration policy objectives – we want the Government to abandon the net migration target and embed a welcoming and humane approach within all policies dealing with foreign nationals coming here.
  2. Ensure that the immigration rules as a whole are equitable, proportionate and serve the UK’s long-term interests. We propose that new, fair immigration rules for both EEA and non-EEA nationals to work, study and be reunited with family should be introduced.
  3. Address inefficiencies in current immigration law and processes. The Government should frontload investment aimed at increasing Home Office capacity and skills to ensure that a decent service is available for all who use the system.
  4. Increase the accountability of Home Office decision-making. The Government should restore appeal rights of appeal in the independent immigration tribunals and facilitate reasonable access to legal advice for both EEA and non-EEA nationals, in order to help them navigate new rules.
  5. Rethink the ‘hostile environment’ strategy. The Government should invest in immigration enforcement at properly managed borders and by immigration officials, not place immigration controls in communities.
  6. Tackle the causes of irregular migration. All new post-Brexit immigration rules should be proportionate and clearly communicated, in order to avoid a further increase in undocumented migrants. Government could also take this opportunity to consider how the status of the UK’s existing 650,000 plus undocumented migrants could be resolved.

Please also see JCWI’s recent briefing on ‘A future settlement for EU treaty rights holders’, for our position on how the rights of EEA nationals and other treaty rights holders currently residing in the UK should be resolved.

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