Introduction to  migration

Since 2011 increasing numbers of people have fled towards Europe, as a result of conflict and violence in several African countries, civil unrest in North Africa, and the civil war in Syria. These numbers have swollen to a flood in 2015, on a scale not seen since WW11. The subsequent crisis involves the whole of Europe, and widens the issues for the EU to address namely humanitarian aid, EU asylum policy, demographic problems for an ageing continent, and integration.

In the UK concerns have focused on the number of migrants including those from the EU  arriving in the country after the 2004 enlargement. Successive Conservative governments since 2010 have made manifesto commitments to reduce net immigration, both EU and non EU, to the tens of thousands. 

Post Brexit immigration system

It is generally accepted that one of the reasons for the referendum vote to leave the EU in 2016 was opposition to the free movement of people condition of EU membership.  On December 19, 2018 the government published a white paper setting out new conditions for immigration following departure from the EU in March 2019.  In summary: 

EU migrants will be on the same footing as those from other countries.

  • Anyone not a British or Irish citizen will need permission to visit, live, work or study in the UK
  • Applicants for a work permit must have a firm offer of employment and a sponsoring employer.  Out for consultation is the minimum salary requirement which for non EU nationals at present is £30,000.
  • A transitional visa for workers of all skills from the EU who will be able to enter without a job offer.  Visa recipients will be able to stay for up to one year but will have to leave for at least a year before reapplying.
  • Graduate students will be allowed six months to find work in the UK after completing their studies. PhD students will be given one year.
  • Youth mobility visa will allow 18-30 year olds from the EU to live and work in the UK for up to two years.

These arrangements will take effect after the transition period agreed in the Prime Minister's exit deal, if the deal itself is agreed. 

December 20, 2018

A starting point in the debate has to be about sorting out the language used and being clear about the distinction between migrant, refugee and economic migrant.

Click here for a simple interactive quiz to test what you know already and any misunderstandings about the meaning of key words – immigrant, refugee, asylum seeker, illegal immigrant.