UK and immigration
Sir, – I note there has been much comment on the announcement of the UK’s new points-based immigration system, particularly its implications for the Irish border and the rights of Irish citizens. Please allow me to clarify a few points which I hope will reassure your readers.
Under the terms of the Common Travel Area, Irish citizens will continue to have the right to live and work in the UK after January 1st, 2021, as they do now. There is no need for Irish citizens currently resident in the UK to apply to the EU settlement scheme, nor will the points-based immigration system apply to Irish citizens moving to the UK in future. The EU Settlement Scheme is the route for non-Irish EU citizens already resident in the UK to apply to stay in the UK, and we encourage them to do so. The EU Settlement Scheme has already received 3.2 million applications, giving EU citizens confirmation of their right to remain in the UK.
I want to be clear that the new immigration system will not result in new checks at the Irish border. People will be free to travel within the Common Travel Area as they do currently. While non-Irish EU citizens will need to qualify for the right to live and work in the UK after January 2021 under the points-based system, their status will be checked as and when they apply for employment and accommodation, not as they enter the UK.
This is a continuation of the policy that currently applies to non-EU nationals. We recognise that this is a change for businesses and individuals and we will be engaging with those affected so they are aware of the new system and how it will operate.
We recognise the special situation of “frontier workers” who commute across the Irish border to a place of work in the UK.
The position of non-Irish EU nationals already working as frontier workers is protected under the withdrawal agreement.
In addition, non-Irish EU nationals who secure a visa to work in the UK under the future points-based system will be free to live in Ireland and travel to work in the UK if they wish.
If your readers would like to know more about the Common Travel Area or the points-based immigration system, all of the information can be found at gov.uk/government/publications/common-travel-area-guidance/common-travel-area-guidance and gov.uk/government/publications/the-uks-points-based-immigration-system-policy-statement . – Yours, etc,