February 19, 2019

February 18, 2019

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Brexit: Immigration consequences to the UK leaving the EU?

The United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Island) went to the polls June 23rd and voted to leave the European Union. Some pro-leave “Brexit” campaigners argued for the ability to limit migration of EU workers as an important issue in the run-up to the referendum.  But what practical effect would a UK exit from the EU have on immigration to that country? 

Post-referendum, there is no immediate impact to EU or other non-British nationals living in the UK without indefinite leave to remain. However, all EU treaty issues will be affected by Brexit, including migration to AND from the UK. After exiting the EU, the UK would have to re-negotiate immigration and movement treaties with the EU member states. The UK has previously remained outside the Schengen Area, which comprises much of continental Europe and allows free movement of both European citizens and non-European citizens within those countries.

Pundits have played with the idea of a Canadian or Australian style points based system for all immigrants, regardless of national origin.  The US has a special immigration category (TN) for neighbors Canada and Mexico for individuals working in certain occupations through the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). If it left the EU, the UK could potentially reintroduce special visas and rules for nationals of Commonwealth nations and other countries in 1-1 free trade agreements and treaties.

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