UK: UK Immigration - What Might Be Expected In 2019

Last Updated: 6 March 2019
Article by Vincent Chung


Brexit is very much a live issue and is still scheduled to take place on 29 March 2019. The terms of the UK's departure from the EU are unclear but a few possibilities, in relation to immigration, are outlined below:

  1. the current draft Withdrawal Agreement is ratified by the UK and the EU. The UK will leave the EU at 11pm on 29 March 2019, although EU free movement laws will continue, in the interim, until 31 December 2020, or another date as agreed, during which the UK and the EU will negotiate the future relationship in terms of the draft Political Declaration. Individuals resident in the UK, under EU free movement laws, by 31 December 2020, or another date as agreed, will need to make an application under the EU Settlement Scheme by 30 June 2021, or another date as agreed, to be able to continue living in the UK lawfully. Certain individuals can currently make an application, while others will need to wait until 30 March 2019. The application will generally result in "pre-settled" status being granted, which is akin to leave to remain, if an individual has lived in the UK for less than 5 years continuously. Pre-settled status will only be valid for 5 years. Once an individual has lived in the UK for 5 years continuously, either under the EU Settlement Scheme and/or under current EU free movement laws, they will generally be granted "settled" status which is akin to indefinite leave to remain/ permanent residence
  2. if there is "no-deal" the default position under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 is that the UK leaves the EU at 11pm on 29 March 2019 without an agreement, in which case

    1. EU laws will be converted into UK domestic laws
    2. EU free movement is likely to end as soon as possible (after 29 March 2019) – there is currently an Immigration Bill, which if approved, would allow this to happen
    According to UK policy, EU citizens and their family members already resident in the UK by 29 March 2019, will be able to continue living in the UK broadly on the same terms as they currently do, and will have to apply for status under the EU Settlement Scheme (as above) by 31 December 2020, to be able to continue living in the UK lawfully. British citizens living in the EU would be subject to whatever arrangements are set out by the respective EU country they are living in, as there are currently no reciprocal agreements in place
  3. Citizens from Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway and those from Switzerland, who are already resident by 29 March 2019, together with their family members, will also broadly have their rights preserved in the UK and vice versa, for British citizens and family members, in accordance with signed reciprocal agreements
  4. Individuals from the above countries and their family members who arrive after 29 March 2019 but before EU free movement ends will likely be able to apply for status under the EU Settlement Scheme (as above)
  5. Individuals from the above countries who arrive after EU free movement ends, are unlikely to be eligible to make an application under the EU Settlement Scheme. However, it is likely that they will be able to stay in the UK for 3 months without applying for a visa but will need to apply for "European Temporary Leave to Remain" if they wish to stay for longer, and this is likely to be valid for 3 years. European Temporary Leave to Remain is not expected to allow an individual to apply for indefinite leave to remain or settled status, and they will likely need to apply for permission to continue living in the UK under the future UK immigration system. Family members (not from the above countries) will likely need to apply for a family permit before they can come to the UK

    The rights of Irish citizens in the UK will continue under the Common Travel Area ("CTA") arrangements, regardless of Brexit, although they and their family members can make an application under the EU Settlement Scheme, should they wish to do so. The CTA arrangements pre-date membership of the EU by both the UK and Ireland, and therefore British citizens can also live in Ireland. The CTA arrangements do not apply to non-Irish and/or non-British family members with the current uncertainty, as highlighted above, other options might transpire

Citizens from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland (and their family members) will be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme from 30 March 2019, when the Scheme is expected to be fully operational.

Tier 1 UK visa Category

There are a number of changes expected in this category, some more sweeping than others including:

  • Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa – this is due to be replaced by an "Innovator" visa
  • Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa – this is due to be replaced by a "Start-Up" visa

It is expected that the replacement of the above visa categories, or at least the announcement of such changes, will be in Spring 2019, and will probably include business proposals being considered (or "sponsored") by businesses. Business proposals currently put forward in the above categories are generally considered by government officials and authorised universities.

In addition, the Tier 1 (Investor) visa category is likely to be reformed, reducing the options of what investments can be made, and requiring more robust evidence of funds, such as independent audits and showing control of funds for extended periods, as opposed to the current 90-day requirement.

Individuals who are currently in the above visa categories, are unlikely to be affected by future changes, and are likely to be able to complete their "visa route" and to become eligible to apply for settlement (e.g. indefinite leave to remain) in the UK, as was the case for previous visa routes which were subsequently closed to new applicants.

Tier 2 UK Sponsored Migrants

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) is expected to report in Spring 2019 on the composition of the shortage occupation list. The current list sets out jobs which are difficult to recruit for and allows businesses intending to sponsor migrants to bypass the onerous "resident labour market test" required for sponsorship under the Tier 2 (General) system.

Law Commission Report and Immigration White Paper

The UK immigration system is quite complex and has been criticised as being difficult to navigate around for judges and practitioners let alone for a lay-person. The Law Commission is expected to release its final report in the second half of 2019 which is likely to propose how the current rules can be made simpler and easier to access.

In addition, the Home Office published a White Paper in December 2018 which set out what the future UK immigration system for skilled migration is likely to look like and this will apply uniformly to non-EU citizens and EU citizens alike. The new UK immigration system is expected to incorporate the future findings of the Law Commission, and will come into effect in phases from late 2020. Over the next 12 months, the Home Office will engage with stakeholders to develop the new system.

Sponsored Workers and Sponsoring Employers

The White Paper sets out the following proposals for sponsored workers, and sponsoring employers:

  • the Home Office will scrap the current annual limit of 20,700, the maximum number that applies to most Tier 2 (General) sponsored migrants
  • the current "resident labour market test", which most Tier 2 sponsor licence holders will be familiar with, will be scrapped in the new immigration system
  • the Home Office will review the administrative burden of the current sponsor licence system, and may introduce a "tiered" system of sponsorship
  • the new system will be widened to include jobs skilled at A level or equivalent (the current system generally requires jobs to be skilled at graduate level or above), though not for migrants coming on the Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) route
  • the current minimum salary requirement of £30,000 will be put to consultation, and it is expected that stakeholders will continue pushing for the reduction of this figure
  • there is scope for "lower" skilled workers, from certain countries, being able to work in the UK on a temporary basis for up to 12 months on a transitional basis, until around 2025, to allow UK employers to adapt to the loss of access to the EU labour market. These workers would then be subject to a 12 month "cooling-off" period


Broadly speaking, there will be no change to the student route, though the Home Office intends that under the new immigration system, successful undergraduate migrants will be able to stay in the UK for 6 months after completing their studies - presumably to obtain gainful employment.

Other Proposals

There are also other proposed changes such as requiring prior digital authorisation before individuals come to the UK, similar to the "ESTA" system adopted by the USA, and making more favourable immigration provisions specific to certain nationalities, depending on trade deal agreements.


As detailed above, there are many expected changes to the UK immigration system this year and in the future, and we will provide further updates as these are made available by the UK Government.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Shepherd and Wedderburn LLP
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Shepherd and Wedderburn LLP
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions