The government’s ‘white paper’ on the post-Brexit immigration system was published on 21 December 2018 and will be followed by a year of stakeholder engagement before new Immigration Rules are laid.

The paper proposes not to give preference to EEA/Swiss citizens, unless this is negotiated in trade deals. Instead, some of the existing restrictions in the skilled work category will be relaxed, including removing the annual limit and resident labour market test, and dropping the minimum skill level to ‘A-level’ (i.e. high school) equivalent. A review of the shortage occupation list is also planned.

For a transitional period, it is envisaged that low-skilled migrants will be able to come to the UK on an unsponsored basis for up to 12 months, with a 12-month cooling-off period. There are also plans to expand the scope of the youth mobility scheme to include a reciprocal EU-UK scheme.