Westminster Legal Policy Forum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7538736244 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7951044809.
For delegates already booked on, we will send you the online joining instructions (including links, event numbers and passwords) five working days before your conference. If you cannot find these in your inbox please email delegate.relations@forumsupport.co.uk

The new UK immigration system - the points based system, irregular migration, international cooperation, and next steps for policy and implementation

Morning, Tuesday, 9th March 2021

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference focuses on the future of the UK’s immigration system, and will be an early opportunity to examine initial implementation of ending free movement, and initial indications of its impact.

The discussion is bringing together stakeholders with key policy officials who are due to attend from the Home Office; the MoJ; the DfE; HMRC; ONS; the Office of the Sentencing Council; UKRI; The Scottish Government; and the Department for the Economy, NI.

Areas for discussion:

  • the new immigration system:
    • as employers adjust to the new points-based immigration system
    • on the recruitment of new skilled overseas staff and the ability of UK businesses to continue to attract international talent
    • with concerns over the initially-proposed salary level, and the absence of a route for workers with lower skills and pay
    • on businesses’ initial logistical and administrative experience with supporting international staff through the new system
  • targeted relaxation of migration rules - assessing options including: 
    • sector- and nation-specific requirements - for senior care workers, and recommendations in the MAC’s review into its shortage occupation lists
    • minimum salary levels - the availability of routes for workers with lower skills and pay, and the recent decision to reduce the threshold by £10,000
  • education - looking at the impact of provisions for:
    • EU, Swiss and EEA students, and the Student, Child Student and Graduate routes
    • PhDs - more points being offered to those with relevant STEM qualifications than non-STEM and the effect this will have on the higher education and R&D sectors and on STEM skills gaps
  • irregular migration - examining key issues for border control, and next steps for international collaboration:
    • priorities and strategic options - assessing the Government’s approach, and the implications for staffing, funding and other resources necessary for effective operational capacity
    • data and information sharing - looking at the position that is current when the conference takes place, and the future for international collaboration
    • the forthcoming launch of the UK Resettlement Scheme (UKRS):
      • priorities for ensuring an operationally smooth resettlement system
      • options for supporting local authorities
      • strategies for making legal routes for asylum seekers more appealing than irregular ones
  • access to justice and trust in the justice system around immigration - policy priorities in the context of:
    • the Court of Appeal declaring unlawful an immigration policy that campaigners argued imposed too tight a timetable on people facing deportation for them to get proper access to justice
    • legal aid lawyers being refused access to army barracks used to house asylum seekers
    • the pandemic resulting in immigration detainees held in jails after completing their prison sentences being unable to access legal advice
  • safeguarding for immigration legal practitioners - options for policy and practice:
    • with some immigration lawyers having begun to minimise releasing information about their work publicly over fears of personal safety, following rising tensions over immigration
  • COVID-19:
    • with disruption affecting international migration and some businesses’ financial sustainability
    • how businesses can be best supported to effectively transition to the new system given other organisational pressures

The agenda:

  • The new UK immigration system and expectations for the future
  • Helping immigrants navigate the new system and supporting their welfare
  • The impact of the new immigration system on UK workforce resources
  • Transitioning to the new points-based immigration system - attracting skilled workers in the UK, addressing potential skills shortages, and implications for post-COVID-19 economic recovery
  • Priorities for supporting immigration lawyers and ensuring access to justice
  • Irregular migration - border management, strengthening authorised pathways, and the future of international cooperation
    • The way forward for effective international joint working
    • Resources - ensuring capacity for monitoring and tackling irregular migration into the UK
  • The outlook for UK immigration moving forward

Relevant developments:

  • Immigration Act receives Royal Assent - introducing the points based system with:
    • provisions easing UK entry for scientists, academics, investors, entrepreneurs, and health and care workers
    • requirements on job skill levels, employer sponsors and English language skills, with additional points available for higher earners, and those with a shortage occupation job or relevant PhD
  • Thousands more health workers to benefit from visa extensions - affecting more than 6,000 frontline doctors, nurse and paramedics, and lasting one year
  • Migration Advisory Committee reviews shortage occupation lists­ - recommending that in addition to social care, special provision should be made for:
    • butchers, bricklayers and welders
    • the devolved nations - giving as examples childminders and nursery nurses for Scotland, health professionals for Wales, and fishmongers, bakers and horticultural workers for NI
  • The Migration Advisory Committee’s annual report - indicating there is likely to be a limited use of skilled worker visas under the new points-based system due to COVID-19, which could impact the UK’s economic recovery by creating delays in filling vacancies, particularly for roles with the biggest staff shortage which require a significant amount of training
  • education - the Government putting in place rules for:
    • EU, Swiss and EEA students  - no longer classified as home students and will therefore be charged higher fees
    • the Graduate route - allowing international masters and undergraduate students to stay two years after their studies, and three years for PhD students
    • Student and Child student routes - with international students able to apply for visas under the points-based system, with no limit to the number of students who can arrive
  • reports by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration looking at:
    • the Home Office’s identification and handling of irregular migrants
    • the use of language services in the asylum process
    • the performance of UK refugee resettlement schemes
  • irregular migration:
    • Fixing our broken asylum system - the Home Secretary’s plans for an overhaul, presented as bearing down on illegal immigration, and more efficient and fair treatment for asylum seekers
    • An inspection of the Home Office’s response to in-country clandestine arrivals (‘lorry drops’) and to irregular migrants arriving via ‘small boats’ - the ICIBI finding that enforcement activity had come at the expense of priorities and resources outside the South East
    • UK and France sign new agreement to tackle illegal migration - including the doubling of officers patrolling French beaches and deployment of new surveillance technology
    • An inspection of UK Refugee Resettlement Schemes - with ICIBI concerns over the range of accommodation and support available for asylum seekers and over lengthy resettlement timescales
  • Home Office announces tougher criminality rules for EU citizens - tighter border rules bringing restrictions on UK entry for criminals from the EU in line with those from other countries
  • International Migration Outlook - recent OECD research found the number of new permanent residency permits granted in advanced economies to have fallen by almost 50% in the first half of 2020

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by officials from the Home Office; the Department for Education; HMRC; the Ministry of Justice; the Office for National Statistics; the Office of the Sentencing Council; UKRI; The Scottish Government; and the Department for the Economy, NI.

For this conference, as is typical of our meetings, we expect speakers and other delegates to be an informed group including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior government officials in this area of public policy, together with other stakeholders involved with and affected by immigration policy in the UK, including legal practitioners and advisors, legal training providers, immigration and asylum support services, rough sleeping charities, parental and children’s rights groups, family and marriage mediators, human rights campaigners, researchers from academia and higher education, and reporters from the national and specialist media.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording and transcript to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speakers

David Greene

President, The Law Society

Dr Seema Farazi

Partner, Global Immigration, EY

Keynote Speakers

Marley Morris

Associate Director - Immigration, Trade and EU Relations, Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR)

David Greene

President, The Law Society

Senior speaker to be confirmed from the Home Office

Professor Brian Bell

Chair, Migration Advisory Committee, and Professor of Economics, King’s College London

Dr Seema Farazi

Partner, Global Immigration, EY


Baroness Sally Hamwee

Liberal Democrat Spokesperson on Home Affairs and Member, Joint Select Committee on Human Rights


Emelia Quist

Senior Policy Manager, Federation of Small Businesses

Harry Anderson

Policy Manager, Universities UK

Rachel Harvey

Legal Director, Shoosmiths

Dr Peter W. Walsh

Researcher, Migration Observatory, University of Oxford