UK considers visa-free travel post-Brexit

The UK government is planning to keep travel visa-free to Britain for EU visitors after Brexit, a media report said today.

Under proposals being considered, if visitors from European Union (EU) countries wanted to work, study or settle in the UK they would have to apply for permission under the proposals.

EU citizens are currently free to live and work in the UK without a permit as Britain is a member country of the 27- member economic bloc.

However, after the country ceases to be a member of the EU by March 2019, the UK Home Office says managing migration is about access to work and benefits as much as the ability to control entry at a physical border.

“Proposals for the future immigration system for EU citizens will be published in due course,” the Home Office said today.

According to ‘The Times’, the new system for EU visitors will be phased in after Britain officially leaves the EU, with those coming to work in the UK initially having to register with the Home Office without work restrictions.

It would be up to the EU to decide whether the offer of visa-free travel – if it is formally proposed by the UK Brexit negotiating team – would be reciprocated.

Visa-free travel is not a new concept Australian and American tourists can, for example, come to the UK for six months without a visa.

For those visitors there are measures in place to deter them from overstaying like action on illegal working, clamping down on their ability to rent property and open a bank account.

But they need an offer of a job with a UK employer and to meet language and other criteria to get a work permit and stay longer.

“The point is that a work permit system for EU workers would lead, in due course, to a massive decrease in net migration from the EU as low-paid workers (who comprise some 80 per cent of the inflow) are squeezed out. The reduction could, by our calculation, be about 100,000 a year,” said Damien Green, chair of Migration Watch UK.

Details of a new immigration system emerged as the government published a position paper on Northern Ireland in which it said that the UK would preserve the Common Travel Area (CTA), which allows movement across Ireland free from routine border controls.

The special solution would be necessary as Ireland would remain part of the EU and accepting the free movement of citizens from the bloc.