Westminster Legal Policy Forum

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

March 2021


Price: £95 PLUS VAT
Format: DOWNLOADABLE PDF


***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***
This conference focuses on the future of the UK’s immigration system.


It will be an early opportunity to examine initial implementation of ending free movement, and early indications of its impact.


The agenda looks at:


  • the new UK immigration system and how it might develop in the future
  • transitioning to the new points-based immigration system, and the impact on UK workforce resources
  • irregular migration - looking at resources and a way forward for effective international joint working
  • helping immigrants navigate the new system and supporting their welfare
  • priorities for supporting immigration lawyers and ensuring access to justice

The discussion is bringing together stakeholders with parliamentary pass-holders from Caerphilly County Borough Council; the House of Commons; Legis Chambers and the Office of Chris Heaton-Harris MP, and key policy officials who are due to attend from the Home Office; the MoJ; the DfE; the DfT; the DWP; the FCDO; HMRC; the MAC; ONS; the Office of the Sentencing Council; UKRI; The Scottish Government; and the Department for the Economy, NI.


The agenda


  • The new UK immigration system and expectations for the future
  • ‘Protecting individuals from exploitation by criminal traffickers and unscrupulous employers: Identifying and mitigating risks in the EU Settlement Scheme and the UK’s new points-based immigration system.’
  • 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 for 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

Areas for discussion:


  • the new immigration system - an early opportunity to examine initial implementation of ending free movement, and early indications of its impact on:
    • recruitment - looking at skilled staff from both the UK and overseas, and the ability of UK businesses to continue to attract international talent
    • employers - the practical and administrative experience of supporting international staff through the new system
    • skills levels - with concerns over the initially-proposed salary threshold, and the absence of a route for workers with lower skills and pay
    • immigrants - and those seeking to move to or work in the UK, as well as those already based here with dependents abroad
  • education - looking at the impact of provisions for:
    • international students - 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
  • 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
  • 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 publicly releasing information about their work 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

Relevant developments:


  • the Immigration Act - 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
  • 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
  • Thousands more health workers to benefit from visa extensions - affecting more than 6,000 frontline doctors, nurses and paramedics, and lasting one year
  • 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 master’s 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:


Places have been reserved by parliamentary pass-holders from the House of Commons, and by officials from the Home Office; the Department for Education; the Department for Transport; the DWP; the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office; HMRC; the Migration Advisory Committee; 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. Also due to attend are representatives from Alb& Kos; Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry; Boyce Care; Britolia Immigration Consultancy; Change Grow Live (CGL); Charles Russell Speechlys; Citizens Advice Southend; Clintons; Culturepot; Disabled People Against Cuts; Durham University; Dyson Technology (The Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology); East Midlands Councils; Embassy of Romania in London; Eversheds Sutherland (International); Gherson; Goldstar Chefs; Integration Support Services; Kaplan International; Larkspur International; Lewis Silkin; Littleton Chambers; Migrant Help; Mishcon de Reya; Northumbria University; Pertemps Network Group; RCJ Advice & Citizens Advice Islington; Shard Capital; Teacher Stern; Tendring District Council; The Blue Thread; The Law Society; The Open University; Trinity College London; University of Brighton; University of Edinburgh; University of Liverpool; University of Plymouth; University of St Andrews; University of Sussex; Wolverhampton University and Yeovil Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.


Press passes have been reserved by representatives from Free Movement; The National - Newsquest and XpertHR.


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



This pack includes

  • Dropbox video recording of the conference
  • PDF transcript of the discussion, including all speaker remarks and Q&A
  • PDFs of speakers' slide material (subject to permission)
  • PDFs of the delegate pack, including speaker biographies and attendee list
  • PDFs of delegate articles