A Brexit could spell a mass exodus of EU workers because they'd fail immigration rules

Immigration is arguably the number one issue for supporters of a Brexit — Britain leaving the European Union.

And if Britons did pip for a Brexit in the June 23, it would see the mass exodus of EU workers. This is not because they would go out of their own will due to Britain divorcing 28 nations in a Brexit — it is because of them failing immigration rules that are in place for non-EU workers.

If Britain was to leave the EU, it means that it wouldn’t have to adhere to the Freedom of Movement Act, which allows all EU citizens to easily migrate to any other member state. It therefore could be likely to apply immigration rules to any non-British citizen looking to live in the country.

And it is under this point that could pose a huge problem for EU workers — a majority would fail to meet the requirements from the British government.

The Oxford University’s Migration Observatory did some number crunching for the Financial Times and it found out that 75% of “EU citizens working in the UK would not meet current visa requirements for non-EU overseas workers if Britain left the bloc.

However, it added that this number would rise to 81% once the new rules, implemented in April, comes into effect.

“Most sectors of the UK labour market now have a significant EU migrant workforce — and many of these are lower-paid sectors, such as hotels and manufacturing,” said Carlos Vargas-Silva, author of the report to the Financial Times.

“Even if the immigration system is redesigned after a Brexit vote, any system that selects EU workers based on skills and pay is likely to hit these sectors hardest.”

Official UK government data shows that net migration into Britain from the EU was 180,000 from June 2014 to June 2015 — a new all-time high. The study said out of the 3.2 million non-UK nationals working in Britain — 2.2 million were EU nationals.

At the moment there are barely any restrictions in terms of EU nationals coming to Britain. All you need is to hold an EU passport to come live and work in the UK.

For non EU nationals, Britain has a two-tier skilled worker visa criteria.

1. The migrant needs to have a graduate-level role.

2. The salary for the job must be more than £20,800. The earnings threshold increases though to £30,000 from April 2017.

However, the Migration Observatory pointed that when it applied this to the EU nationals working in Britain, it means most would fail to meet those criterias.

You can read the full report here.

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