'Points' immigration plan for post-Brexit UK

UK prime minister frontrunner Boris Johnson has expressed support for an ‘Australian-style’ points system for immigration to the UK after Brexit – here we look at what this implies and what would be in place for Britons wanting to come to France.

Mr Johnson has said the UK should be “much more open” to high-skilled migrants, such as scientists, who would be eligible for a high 'points' score, but that it is vital that the country reduce the number of immigrants who are low-skilled or who want to do jobs that can be easily filled by UK nationals. 

Speaking English would also be a key element in obtaining enough ‘points’ to live in the country, Mr Johnson has said.

It is not expected that the EU would reciprocate with any across-the-board policy for immigration from the UK, but rather that Britons coming to countries like France would in future be subject to the usual rules for non-EU citizens.

Mr Johnson's comments have been taken as a possible indication that he would want to roll back Theresa May’s focus on reducing net immigration numbers below a set target – she repeatedly said it should be under 100,000 a year, a figure which is very far from being met (the latest figures are 261,000 for people from outside the EU and 57,000 for those from the EU).

It has also been inferred that meeting a specific income target might be less important in the new ‘points-based’ scheme. This comes as the UK’s home secretary is reviewing a plan for immigrants to the UK post-Brexit to need to have jobs with salaries of at least €30,000 after criticisms that the level is too high.

It is expected that after Brexit (or after the end of a transition period to the end of 2020, if the negotiated deal goes through) Britons wanting to come to live in France would be subject to the usual ‘third-country citizen’ requirements of visas and cartes de séjour.

This is unless, for example, the UK was to leave with the deal and then agree to a very ‘soft’ Brexit option such as membership of the European Economic Area, during negotiations in the transition period.

Assuming the ordinary rules would apply, coming for more than three months will require applying for a €250 visa from a French consulate then (to stay longer than a year) obtaining a residency card from a prefecture in France after coming to France. These vary on a person’s status and reason for coming and are currently €269 per card, though France is said to be considering lowering the fees.

Non-workers would need to prove they individually have income from pensions and investments of at least the monthly net Smic minimum wage (€1,204) and workers would need to have a job to go to and obtain a permis de travail (work permit) from their future employer.

However after Brexit UK diplomas would be treated as foreign and would be assessed using French national criteria rather than benefiting from automatic EU rules on mutual recognition.

It would no longer be possible to stay more than three months in France while looking for work, whereas EU citizens can stay up to six months while job-seeking (or longer if they can demonstrate they are actively looking and likely to find a job rapidly).

Those wanting to come to France to start their own business would in future need to give evidence of a ‘real and serious’ project in which they will be investing at least €30,000.

Retirees would apply for one-year visitor residency card which would need renewing annually (each member of a couple would need to apply for their own card), with the possibility of a 10-year card after five years of residency on condition of income at least equivalent to the gross monthly Smic (€1,522) and on passing a language test (for those aged under 65). The visitor card does not allow holders to do paid work.

Foreign residents who have held two 10-year residency  cards (or one card if they are over-60) may then obtain a permanent residency card.

Most third country applicants coming to work (those in high-level and in-demand jobs may benefit from special arrangements) typically apply for individual permits and can only bring the rest of their family (spouse, children) to live with them after having held a residence card for at least 18 months, by applying for regroupement familial.

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