On 1 January 2021, the UK’s new points-based immigration system is due to take effect and freedom of movement with the EU will come to an end.
Under the new rules, EU citizens wishing to come and work in the UK will be subject to the same immigration rules as people from outside the EU and will be assessed on characteristics such as how well they speak English, their likely salary and whether they have had a job offer.
The new regime will probably have an impact on Jersey, which is part of the Common Travel Area incorporating the UK, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. However, the government has said that the Home Affairs Minister, currently Constable Len Norman, would have powers to ‘carve out’ exceptions for certain industries which rely on immigrant labour, such as agriculture and hospitality.
Chief Minister John Le Fondré has tabled a proposition to update the Island’s immigration laws in preparation for the new regime and to provide extended powers to the Home Affairs Minister.
‘In relation to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Act 2020 provides for the ending of free movement,’ the Chief Minister said in his proposition.
‘In January 2020 a report by the Law Commission was presented to the UK parliament. It recommended that the immigration rules be overhauled and simplified.
‘The Home Office has acted on this recommendation and is in the process of redrafting the immigration rules ahead of implementing its new points-based immigration system from January 2021.’
In the House of Commons, Conservative MP Bob Neill spoke of the UK government’s desire for Jersey and other members of the ‘British family’ to maintain and strengthen their links with the UK.
‘I hope as we go forward that we will see what can be done to help other parts of the broader British family that would desire access to our new internal market – for example, the Crown Dependencies, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man,’ he said. ‘Many of their financial sectors – their trust arrangements and their banking fund arrangements – are importantly and closely linked to the City of London and the UK.
‘The Justice Committee has oversight of the Ministry of Justice’s work on the relationships with the Crown Dependencies, and I think there is a great desire to see how we can strengthen the access between them and the UK.
‘The aspiration for the Crown Dependencies to have free and unfettered access to the UK market is something we should look to explore with them on a reciprocal basis.’