Updates, commentary, training and advice on immigration and asylum law

From Brexit to small boats: five dramatic years in UK immigration policy


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The immigration system has been through a lot since I started covering it for Free Movement five years ago. In September 2017, the UK was still in the two-year countdown to leaving the European Union, and there were even doubts about whether it would happen at all. The EU Settlement Scheme was still a twinkle in the Home Office’s eye, and instead of the exciting post-Brexit points-based immigration system we had a boring old… points-based immigration system.

But while the basic architecture of the visa system remains largely the same, lots of the details have changed. Gone are the Investor and Entrepreneur routes, while in have come a host of new or (more commonly) rebranded visas: Innovator, Graduate, Global Talent, High Potential and Seasonal Worker. The flagship Skilled Worker route is now much easier to recruit into than Tier 2 (General) ever was, and visa issuances to non-Europeans have soared. That’s led to a recent narrative that immigration has actually risen since Brexit — although as Peter William Walsh of the Migration Observatory points out, this theory is somewhat lacking in key epistemic features, such as being true.

I spoke to Peter, Colin and business immigration guru Nichola Carter for a valedictory podcast looking back at the big themes and trends of the past five years in UK immigration, including Brexit, Windrush and Rwanda. Click play above to listen in your browser or find it on the usual podcast platforms.

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CJ McKinney

CJ McKinney is a specialist on immigration law and policy. Formerly the editor of Free Movement, you will find a lot of articles by CJ here on this website! Twitter: @mckinneytweets.