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Publication in Wiltshire Business Magazine

on Fri 16 Sep

Our own Article version 

Brexit vote leaves employers and employees needing Immigration advice

The result of the vote in the referendum on 23rd June regarding the UK’s membership of the European Union (EU) has left much uncertainty in the eyes of local businesses when it comes to understanding their Immigration situation.  

Marc Gibson, Managing Director of My G Ltd (Immigration Solutions) discusses the Immigration impact of Brexit on South West businesses.

My own company provides Immigration Advice and Services for both Individuals and Businesses. Following the referendum, My G Ltd has seen unprecedented levels of enquiries and requests for help and I see no end to that for the foreseeable future. The absence of any real government plans on how to proceed has created uncertainty for so many.

Statements from the Home Secretary and Minister for Immigration indicate that future residence rights of Individual EU Nationals in the UK will be a matter for exit negotiations. Under EU Law, EU Nationals exercising their treaty rights in the UK will continue unchanged until the UK actually leaves the EU. That follows the formal notification of withdrawal under article 50, or the end of the two-year negotiation period.

With the uncertainties, there is a shared view by Immigration Law Practitioners that European Economic Area (EEA) Nationals and their families should take steps as early as possible to protect their Immigration position by securing the best migration status they are entitled too. This could include applying for permanent residence if eligible or obtaining the necessary certificates to confirm their rights, including appropriate employment records.

But what does it mean for employers?

Generally, it seems that the immediate position is ok and many businesses are continuing with their recruitment in the same way as before the referendum took place. Many businesses that hold Sponsorship Management Licenses are still considering Foreign Nationals as part of their recruitment mix. For some though, the strategy is to hold back on recruitment and see how Brexit plans impact their potential future hiring of Foreign Nationals.

The overall effect of Brexit can only be measured once the government provides an exit manifesto with clear signs of how it will affect Immigration. Immigration remains a complex topic for negotiation and potentially may not meet people’s expectations who voted either way.

There is the potential for many more years of uncertainty in the Immigration process, leading to employers becoming reticent to recruit or only considering UK Citizens for their work. This reluctance will be due primarily to employers not recognizing or understanding who they are legally entitled to consider employing as having a “right to work in the UK”. In the long term this could result in businesses finding it even harder to recruit and the downstream effect of nationally recognized industry occupation shortages which will affect everyone. 

One area under the Immigration spotlight recently is the subject of illegal working. For employers and for those already working in the UK the government has recently taken steps to tighten the rules around illegal working too. This makes it increasingly difficult for illegal immigrants to remain in the UK undiscovered. For businesses, that means employing an illegal worker amounts to a criminal offence and the new regulations will result in harsh criminal penalties for those businesses who fail to undertake the appropriate Immigration checks and turn a blind eye to those who do not meet the immigration requirements.

Immigration law is complex, frequently changing and is not an easily navigable subject. All of the Brexit uncertainty combined with the recent changes to the Immigration Act 2016 can leave businesses somewhat unclear about their right to employ anyone with a “right to work in the UK”. Getting current impartial advice as part of any HR policy is recommended if you currently employ or are looking to employ Foreign Nationals and EU nationals in the future.


Editors Notes:

  • My G Ltd is a recognized member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association and OISC providing Immigration Services to individuals and businesses across the South West of England. Tel: 01373 301 194
  • Marc Gibson is the Managing Director of My G Ltd, which is based in Westbury, Wiltshire


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