What we know about Brexit - an update from English UK Chief Executive
31 January 2019

Rising above the headlines of doom, gloom and endless speculation, I'd like to begin the year with a focus on the positive and outline what we actually know as far as the likely impact of Brexit on UK ELT is concerned.

Although the likelihood of no-deal has risen this week, the Government is still working to get its Withdrawal Arrangement passed by Parliament, which includes an implementation period until December 2020, during which time there would be no changes in the way students enter the country.

What about a no-deal scenario?

In the case of no-deal, there will also be some time before any proposals made in the Immigration White Paper pass into law and come into effect. We are not expecting any changes to be made this summer even if the UK leaves the EU with no deal at the end of March.

The government has confirmed that in the case of no deal EU learners coming here for a course of up to three months will be able to come to the UK as they do now.

The core statement says: "If Britain leaves the EU without agreeing a deal, the government will seek to end free movement as soon as possible and has introduced an Immigration Bill to achieve this. For a transitional period only, EEA citizens and their family members, including Swiss citizens, will still be able to come to the UK for visits, work or study and they will be able to enter the UK as they do now. However, to stay longer than three months they will need to apply for permission and receive European Temporary Leave to Remain, which is valid for a further three years."

How will the new Immigration Policy affect us?

The Immigration White Paper, finally published on Thursday 20 December, sets out the detail of the government's three key principles for immigration from 2021: the end of free movement, a single immigration system for all nationalities and one that is based on talent and skills not nationality.

These are the key proposals affecting the UK ELT industry which would only come into effect in 2021, if there is a deal:

  • All inbound EU learners will have to apply for an ETA [Electronic Travel Authorisation] prior to travel. This will be modelled on the USA ESTA (and mirror the EU proposed ETIAS) in its simplicity and low cost
  • They will be issued a short-term study visa upon arrival, as is currently the case for non-visa nationals 
  • ID cards will be phased out, "in due course after the implementation period"
  • Expansion of the Youth Mobility Scheme is being actively considered, which would provide an obvious route for adult learners from the EU.

How can English UK lobby for changes to the new immigration arrangements?

We've got two opportunities:

  • We approach MPs in a position to influence the passage of the White Paper and help them understand the needs of UK ELT
  • The policy team at the Home Office are going to convene a bespoke group to explore all the concerns relating to short term study routes, following initial discussions I have had with them

To support this lobbying effort, we need some information from you, and have sent out a very quick survey to all of you who have learners travelling on ID cards– please complete this. Your input will help our case, so thank you in advance.

Once we have this information, we will let all of you know how to use this with your local MP as well.

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