As many will know, there is an EU referendum set on the 23rd June 2016. The outcome of this referendum could affect current and future employment prospects for many non-British citizens. In terms of immigration and right to work in the UK, there are three groups of people who will be affected by the changes. The first group is the non-eea nationals, the second are the eea nationals (European citizens) and the third group is both non-eea and eea nationals.
Non-eea nationals have always required visas to live and work in the UK. The big change may come as a positive to this group. The UK has a tradition and reputation for employing many high skilled engineers, developers, designers and many others from the skilled sector. Currently this market is filled with those from the EU countries. If the UK left the EU it would mean these nationals would not be able to work in the UK unless they had a visa. Currently the quota for Tier 2 sponsored visas issued for overseas migrants is around 20,000 per year. The Home Office would have to increase this number to around 100,000 to be able to maintain the influx of highly skilled labour that the country requires. This would benefit those from non-eea countries as it would mean there are more visa opportunities and less chance of them to get sponsored due to lack of quota.
EEA nationals may find themselves in an unfamiliar place requiring a visa to work in the UK. This could put those with lack of skills, experience or qualifications at a disadvantage. Currently EU nationals can apply to as many jobs as they want in the UK and can afford to test the market. If visas were introduced they would have to ensure they were prepared as they would now be competing against a finite number of visas.
Both EEA and non-EEA Nationals
The difference may now be that this group of non-British nationals may be competing directly for one of the limited visa quota jobs. The UK would in turn have an immigration system similar to Canada or Australia were anyone who is not a citizen of that country must obtain a visa to work there. The Home Office may reopen (with some modifications) the old Tier 1 General visa which was designed for high skilled workers. This visa didn’t require sponsorship and gave those with the right qualifications and employment background to come and work in the UK.
It is unlikely there will be any immediate changes but for safety and peace of mind its worth obtaining any permissions available now. Many UK citizens have Irish ancestry and it is worth them picking up their Irish citizenship to give them EU citizenship should the UK leave and they want to increase their employment prospects in Europe.
Even if the UK doesn’t leave the EU, it’s always safer to have more citizenships and passports to: