The government has confirmed it will publish its response to Law Commission proposals on simplifying the Immigration Rules 'shortly' after unveiling details about its post-Brexit points-based immigration system.
The Home Office today declared that it will ‘take back control of our borders’, publishing a policy statement on precisely how that will be achieved. The department also confirmed that it will respond to the commission’s report shortly, ‘which will set out how we propose to provide the foundations for a streamlined and simplified system’.
Last month, the commission told the government that £70m could be saved by simplifying the Immigration Rules under the 1971 act, which have grown from 40 pages to over 1,100 pages over five decades.
The new system, to be created under the Immigration Bill announced today, will come into force on 1 January 2021. Points will be assigned for specific skills, qualifications, salaries and professions. Visa applications must have 70 points.
Immigration practitioners cautiously welcomed the opportunity for simplification. Vanessa Ganguin, managing partner of Vanessa Ganguin Immigration Law, told the Gazette that the system being trailed today gives the government an opportunity to simplify the immigration rules and policy with a new, coherent system.
However, she said: ‘The suggestion of exploring proposals for a broader unsponsored route over the coming year and it needing a longer implementation period does ring some alarm bells. This suggests that rather than replacing free movement and the current mishmash of thinking from different eras with a simplified system, the government might tackle the simpler reforms first while leaving the more difficult work until later. It feels like the existing system is being edited and repackaged and the newer more flexible elements will be kicked into the long grass’.
Marcia Longdon, an immigration partner at London firm Kingsley Napley, said it will be critical for those without a sponsor licence to apply for one as soon as possible, ‘and we can expect the Home Office to be overwhelmed with a surge of applications as employers gear up to cope with the new system’.
She added: ‘What is clear is that companies across the board will need to be more prudent in future about their people and talent planning, and there will be a huge cost implication for those recruiting from overseas and administrating visas from next year.’