Scrap plans for No Deal visas

28 February 2019

The Russell Group is calling on the Home Secretary and Immigration Minister to scrap plans for a 36-month visa for EU nationals coming to the UK in the event of a No Deal Brexit. The European Temporary Leave to Remain (ETLR) scheme would discriminate against Scottish universities and any future EU students wanting to study engineering and medicine courses, which last more than three years.

Under the proposal, if a Brexit deal cannot be reached with Brussels, the Government will introduce a new temporary immigration category for EU nationals arriving after Brexit, but before the Home Office establishes the UK’s new immigration system, which it hopes to do by January 2021.

EU citizens arriving within this period would only be able to stay in the UK for 3 months before being required to obtain ETLR, allowing them to live, work and study for 36 months on a non-extendable basis. Beyond that, there is still no clarity over what future visa options may exist or what the eligibility criteria would be.People arriving on ETLR would be completely in the dark about their ability to stay in the UK for longer periods.

This would discriminate against EU students wishing to take courses longer than three years at UK universities, including:

  • All medicine and dentistry courses
  • Nearly all engineering courses
  • Any course with an integrated masters or placement period
  • Almost every PhD programme
  • Many part-time courses
  • Undergraduate degrees in Scotland

Last year (2017/18) around 15,000 EU students started UK university courses expected to last more than three years – a quarter of all EU students coming to study here. 

The proposed scheme backtracks on commitments that have already been made in secondary legislation, which say that any EU citizen arriving before the end of next year would be eligible to apply for Settled Status. The Government should urgently confirm that this right will still apply, irrespective of ongoing negotiations over the Brexit deal.  

Commenting, Russell Group Head of Policy Jess Cole said:

“Introducing a non-extendable, three-year visa for EU nationals would be bizarre. It’s a kick in the teeth to Scottish universities, given nearly every undergraduate course in Scotland is four years, and to courses such as medicine and engineering, which are also longer. This makes no sense for the NHS and industry, given the doctors and engineers we need.

“These are most likely unintended consequences of an ill-considered Government policy – but even so, we have repeatedly made our concerns clear to the Home Office and have still received no reassurances. It’s time to scrap these plans and come good on the promises made to the EU citizens who contribute so much to our society and economy – whether they are here already or planning to come in the next few years”.

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