Brexit, immigration, travel: What you should know, in 500 words

Freedom of movement between the UK and the EU will come to an end on December 31, ushering in huge changes for how Britons and Europeans live, work and travel.

Immigration was a major talking-point in the UK's 2016 Brexit vote, with the pro-leave campaign claiming quitting the bloc would allow the UK to 'take back control' of its borders [Francisco Seco/AP Photo]
Immigration was a major talking-point in the UK's 2016 Brexit vote, with the pro-leave campaign claiming quitting the bloc would allow the UK to 'take back control' of its borders [Francisco Seco/AP Photo]

The UK’s upcoming departure from the European Union’s orbit will see the rules governing how Britons and Europeans live, work and travel between the country and the continent change dramatically.

Freedom of movement between the UK and the EU will come to an end on December 31 when the Brexit transition period ends, meaning UK citizens will no longer have the automatic right to live and work in the bloc, and vice versa.

Under the Brexit divorce deal agreed by the two sides, the roughly one million British nationals who are legal residents in the EU will have broadly the same rights as they have now. The same applies for more than three million EU citizens living in the UK.

But from the beginning of next year, those who want to cross borders to work and reside elsewhere will follow newly-enforced immigration rules. They will also face other bureaucratic hurdles, such as ensuring their professional qualifications are recognised.

There will be an exception for people moving between EU member state Ireland and the UK, as the pair have a separate common travel area.

The changes will have a major impact on hiring at all ends of the labour market, and make it far more difficult and costly to hire people from the other side for small and large businesses alike.

Meanwhile, although travelling for holidays will remain visa-free, UK nationals will need a visa for stays longer than 90 days, in EU member states, in any 180-day period.

UK nationals travelling to the EU will also need at least six months left on their passports and buy their own travel insurance.

Britons will no longer be issued the European Health Insurance Card, which guarantees access to medical care across the bloc, but the UK says it is setting up a replacement system so that its visitors to the bloc and EU citizens visiting the UK will continue to have medical coverage.

Points-based system

The UK will allow European citizens to stay for up to six consecutive months, but is implementing a new Australia-style points-based immigration system for those planning to enter the UK to live and work.

Immigration was a major talking-point in the UK’s 2016 Brexit vote, with the pro-leave camp claiming quitting the bloc would allow the UK to “take back control” of its borders, as well as its laws.

Officials have said the new policy will treat EU and non-EU citizens equally, and is aimed at attracting the “brightest and the best” to the UK.

There will be no cap on the number of people who can qualify under the scheme, but the UK government has said it plans to bring overall migration numbers down post-Brexit.

However, critics say its failure to provide a specific entry route for so-called low-skilled workers could result in staff shortages in a several industries, including in care and agriculture sectors.

Foreign nationals comprise about a sixth of England’s 840,000-strong care sector workforce, while 20 percent of workers in the UK’s agriculture sector come from overseas.

Source : Al Jazeera and News agencies

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