Businesses should be prepared for more paperwork and expense under new immigration laws according to a Carlisle immigration lawyer.
The Government has announced a new points-based immigration system which will replace freedom of movement now that the UK has left the EU.
Under the system, employers wishing to recruit workers from overseas will need to apply for licences. These previously only applied to workers coming from outside the EU.
The changes will apply from January next year.
“Businesses need to be aware that there will be extra procedures to carry out,” said Alex McAll of Wragg Mark-Bell, who is a specialist in immigration law.
“Employers who do not have a sponsor licence approved by the Home Office should consider applying for one as soon as possible if they intend to employ overseas workers after January 2021.
“Currently there is a fee for these licences so I expect there will be fees when the new system is confirmed.”
He added: “I think businesses which want to bring in overseas workers need to start to think about their needs long term which isn’t always easy in the current economic climate.”
Under the Government’s new system EU immigrants will be treated the same as those from the rest of the world. To receive a visa they will need to qualify for 70 points, and in most cases they will need to have a job offer with a salary of at least £25,600.
Concerns have been raised by health, farming and tourism leaders that the system will exclude low skilled workers which these sectors depend on.
But Alex cautions: “We don’t know for certain how it will work until more formal proposals are made by the government. At the moment, we just have a policy document. The Immigration White Paper is due to be published this month and should provide more details.”
Meanwhile he has seen an increase in people across Cumbria and south west Scotland wanting to apply for British Nationality.
“We have had an increase since Brexit was finalised this year,” said Alex. “People are coming asking what they need to do to make sure they can continue to live in the UK after the transitional period ends from January next year.
“The EU nationals I have been seeing come from Greece, Portugal, Germany, France, Spain and Italy and include people working in Carlisle and west Cumbria”
They can apply to stay under the EU Settlement Scheme but Alex says: “Settlement gives permanent residence but it is a ‘digital status’ and many people prefer to have a more formal physical document which they can show when looking to rent a property for example, or when applying for work.
“As a result, many people want to apply for British Nationality.
“We have a very good success rate for British Nationality applications, and most are being decided by the Home Office within three months.”