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Post Brexit, the UK urgently needs a root-and-branch reform of immigration policy

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Ahead of this summer's Government consultation on a new immigration system, the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) recommends six areas for reform in a new paper considering the seismic implications of Brexit.

After Brexit, potentially hundreds of thousands of European nationals coming to the UK every year will be brought under domestic immigration control. This will greatly reduce the flexibility currently enjoyed by employers, universities and migrants, as well as placing a considerable new burden on the domestic immigration system. Future trade deals with third countries including Australia, India and the USA could also have an impact on future UK migration flows.

We argue that the current policy approach is unlikely to deliver fair and effective rules for future EEA and non-EEA nationals coming here. It could also lead to lower public confidence in the Government over immigration, at a time of wider turbulence and uncertainty.

We urge the Government to take the lead now on this crucial issue, beginning with the following:

  1. Reframe UK immigration policy objectives, replacing the net migration target with a pragmatic and positive approach in policies aimed at foreign nationals coming here.
  2. Ensure that the immigration rules for both EEA and non-EEA nationals are equitable, proportionate and serve the UK’s long-term interests.
  3. Address inefficiencies in current immigration law and processes, by investing in skills and capacity at the Home Office.
  4. Increase the accountability of Home Office decision-making, by restoring independent rights of appeal and facilitating reasonable access to legal advice for both EEA and non-EEA nationals.
  5. Rethink the ‘hostile environment’ strategy, investing instead in immigration enforcement at properly managed borders and by immigration officials.
  6. Tackle the causes of irregular migration, by ensuring that all post-Brexit immigration rules are proportionate and clearly communicated.