Immigration update and proposal for devolution of immigration in Wales

An update on business immigration matters.

The ability to close an employer’s premises for up to 48 hours pending the outcome of an illegal working compliance order -where the employer has previously fallen foul of immigration rules and is again found to be employing someone illegally- is now in force. The requirements for an illegal working compliance order mirror the existing right to work procedures.

The immigration skills charge is still set to come into force in April 2017 which sees Tier 2 employers facing a charge of £1,000 per migrant per year (with a reduced rate for smaller businesses).

Hitting the headlines recently is the question of whether immigration should become devolved in the various nations throughout the UK. MPs’ have reported that the UK’s existing policy and immigration system is “unresponsive to demographic, economic and cultural differences between our constituent nations and regions” and there is need for change.

Currently there is no separate immigration policy for Wales and immigration is led by a UK wide policy. There is concern that following the outcome of Brexit, Wales will be left behind and vulnerable public sectors that benefit greatly from immigration will suffer.

As a result, plans have been proposed that would allow Wales to lead the way in having a region-specific visa system and to allow Wales to create its own immigration policy in an effort to manage Wales’ immigration controls through devolved powers to the National Assembly.

Having devolved powers in relation to immigration will address specific economic and cultural needs of Wales as opposed to a blanket policy throughout the UK and as a result, will enhance the ability to draw in highly skilled workers into sectors of vacancy scarcity.

This proposal is heavily supported by Wales’ political party Plaid Cymru and has been for some time although it remains very much in the early stages. The proposals have now led to a request being made for an independent commission to look into how this regionally-led immigration system would or could work in the future.