UK: Low Skilled Immigration and Skills Levy Post-Brexit

Ministers are putting pressure on Prime Minister Theresa May to let in tens of thousands of migrants every year, even after Britain leaves the EU. Cabinet ministers have raised concerns about the effect this will have on certain industry sectors; however, Downing Street remains firm in its position to end free movement and attract only “the brightest and the best” highly-skilled workers.

Tens of thousands of low-skilled jobs are currently filled by migrants and as such certain ministers have highlighted areas of the economy that will suffer, should discussions focus only on highly-skilled migrants. Informal talks have been taking place between Home Office officials and Government departments discussing the need for unskilled migrants to continue working in sectors such as agriculture, hospitality, construction, and social care.

Immigration Minister Robert Goodwill has further suggested that there should also be restrictions on highly skilled EU workers once the UK has left the EU. He has suggested an “immigration skills levy” whereby employers will have to pay £1000 per worker for every year of employment in the UK.

This scheme will be introduced for non-EEA migrants this April in the hope that businesses will favour British workers and that the revenue generated will be used to train British people.

The proposal has been met with a lot of opposition from businesses who are concerned that, following Brexit, it will hit British business at a time when it is crucial that they are successful. The London Chamber of Commerce has highlighted that, with 15% of the current workforce being EU nationals, it would be akin to “effectively fining” a large number of businesses. The Liberal Democrats” business spokesman criticised the idea, commenting “I”ve yet to meet a single business who would hire from abroad if they could find the skills they need here”.

Going forward, Downing Street and the Home Office insist they still hope to meet their target to cut net migration to fewer than 100,000, with a Home Office spokesperson noting that the “Government has been clear that, as we conduct our negotiations, it must be a priority to regain more control of the numbers of people who come here from Europe.”

Our advice

Newland Chase will continue to monitor these developments and provide updates.

It is for important for sponsoring companies to note that the £1000 immigration skills charge for non-EEA skilled workers will be implemented in April 2017.

For advice and assistance regarding UK immigration, please email us at

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