Brexit is fast approaching with an unclear immigration plan as the skills gap lies in the balance

If we leave the European Union (EU) on a no-deal term on the 31st October, the UK Government has said it could end freedom of movement of EU citizens putting an increased strain on the skills gap.

On August 19, recruitment firm Robert Half said how the over one million EU nationals that have been given permission to stay in the UK following Brexit, should help to plug the skill gaps and talent shortages in the UK.

However, Priti Patel, the home secretary has drawn up plans to replicate a Singapore-style immigration system to count people in and out of the country.

Former prime minister, Theresa May had initially proposed extending free movement rules or introducing a temporary leave to remain scheme if a no-deal Brexit took place.

Under new prime minister Boris Johnson, another approach has been set out.  He has said that the UK will not “become hostile to immigration” but will be “democratically controlled”.

Karendeep Kaur, senior immigration consultant for Migrate UK, a firm which specialises in corporate and individual immigration said:

New rules have not been put in place, and the threat to end free movement is a mere 72 days away. This only adds to the uncertainty of EU nationals currently in the UK and employers across the country, who until recently had been planning for a December 2020 deadline.

The Home Office has said that EU citizens who live in the UK have until December 2020 to apply for the right to remain under its settled status scheme.

A Downing Street spokeswoman has said “tougher criminality rules” for those coming to the UK will be introduced.

Joanna Hunt, managing associate at Lewis Silkin, a law firm said:

All this just adds to the increasing levels of uncertainty and anxiety amongst EU nationals and the businesses which employ them. What is needed is a clear and coherent policy about what will happen following a no deal Brexit so that businesses can be sure that they will be able to source the labour they need post 31 October and EU nationals wanting to work in the UK can make plans for the future. The fact that they are going back to square one will only serve to heighten the fear that the UK is simply not prepared for a no deal exit.

Fraser Vandal, an employment and immigration solicitor at TLT, a UK law firm said:

The planned interim measures for those arriving in the UK between 1 November 2019 and 31 December 2020 following a no deal Brexit have been scrapped and will be replaced.  New arrangements are yet to be announced, but the current direction of travel would suggest that these will be less generous than those proposed by Theresa May’s government.