The UK’s new visa and immigration system will ban EU migrants from accessing state benefits for five years. Following the end of free movement between the EU and UK, as of 1 January 2021, EU migrants are now subject to the same UK visa and immigration rules as non-EU citizens.
UK Work and Pensions Secretary, Therese Coffey, confirmed that new arrivals from mainland Europe will be denied access to British state benefits for five years. Meanwhile, changes to child benefit rules will stop overseas workers from receiving money for children living outside of the UK.
The changes had been expected, since the Tories announced them prior to the general election last year.
Coffey said: “We have delivered on our manifesto commitment to restore fairness in access to our welfare system by treating EU and non-EU migrants equally. It is both right and fair that people making the UK their home should pay into the tax system for a reasonable period of time before they can access the benefit system.”
Some EU citizens and Ireland nationals avoid ban
Despite the ban on new EU migrant arrivals, citizens from the continent already in the UK, and nationals of Ireland, are exempt from the new rules. Prior to the EU referendum in June 2016, the government reported that 32,000 children of EU nationals receiving child benefit payments were based overseas.
Miss Coffey said: “The end of free movement means fairer benefit rules coming into force for EU migrants.”
The new, UK points-based immigration system has been geared toward attracting highly skilled workers from around the world. Skilled worker visa applicants must be able to speak English and have a job offer in place that pays a certain salary. Under the new system, low-skilled immigration to the UK will be virtually impossible.
UK sovereignty restored
The landmark Brexit deal, which was passed in the House of Commons on 30 December 2020, was hailed by Brexit-backing MPs who said that the deal ‘restores UK sovereignty.’
The passing of the deal came just hours after Brussels signed the pact off at their end.
UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said: “We have fulfilled the sovereign wish of the British people to live under our own laws. Meanwhile, Britain will be the best friend and ally that the EU will ever have.”
“Having taken back control of our money, our laws, our borders and our waters from the European Union on January 1, we now seize this moment to forge a new relationship with our European neighbours based on free trade and friendly cooperation,” Johnson added.
Johnson said that the deal struck with the EU was ‘one of the biggest free trade agreements in the world,’ at more than £600 billion.
The Prime Minister said that it was now ‘up to Britain’ to decide what to do with its new found freedoms. He said: “I have always said Brexit is not the end but a beginning.”
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