It is clear that anxiety amongst prospective EU27 migrants regarding their future status in the United Kingdom post-Brexit has begun to impact on the appeal of the UK as a destination country for work and residence. Whilst net migration to the UK remains significantly higher than the Government’s long frustrated target (the aim is to secure the annual net migration population increase at less than one hundred thousand), the figures show that the trend is downwards. Net migration for the 12 month period from September 2016 to September 2017 was plus 244,000. This represents a reduction of around 100,000 on the same period in the previous year.
It remains to be seen whether the Government’s offer to preserve freedom of movement rights (albeit under domestic legislation) during a 21 month transition period after 29th March 2019 will have a counter-balancing impact on the figures. EU nationals will have a greater level of certainty and confidence regarding their future eligibility to settle (obtain indefinite leave to remain) in the UK and be joined by qualifying family members. This
follows the publication of the UK Government’s revised policy document on EU citizens’ rights (February 2018) and the European Commission’s draft Withdrawal Agreement(March 2018).
It is clear that the reduction in supply of EU workers has had an impact on demand for sponsorship of non-EU migrant workers as the Tier 2 cap was over-subscribed from December 2017 to April 2018. The annual quota opened up again on 6th April 2018 – we wait to see whether this will alleviate some of the pressure on employers.