Post Brexit Transition Period and its After-Effect on the Ankara Agreement Work Visa
Prepared by: Ali Güden
On 31st January 2020, Brexit took place and the UK left the European Union. Following this on 1st February 2020, the Brexit Transition Period (hereon after "Transition Period") started. Although the Brexit transition period is predicted to last until 31st December 2020, some critics have the opinion that it may take much longer.

Throughout the transition period UK will still be obliged to comply with the European Union rules, which means the Court of Justice of the European Union will continue to have jurisdiction over the UK.

How will the Transition Period affect Turkish businesspersons and their businesses?

During the Transition Period, the UK is still planning to form new agreements with other countries including the European Union. In fact, some of these agreements have already come into force. We believe that it would not be wrong to anticipate that the agreements signed between the European Union and Turkey (such as the Ankara Agreement) will come to an end in terms of UK's position as a party to the agreement once the Transition Period reaches completion.

In regard to immigration rules, we are of the view that the Ankara Agreement and other immigration applications made in this context will also end for Turkish businesspersons who intend to set up a business in the UK once the Transition Period is completed.

It is fair to say that the Ankara Agreement will remain effective until the completion of the Transition Period, on the basis that UK is still obligated to comply with EU rules until 31st December 2020. In other words, Turkish citizens will still be able to apply for work visas under the provisions of the Ankara Agreement until this date and the applications of those who have already made their applications will be evaluated under the current laws in effect.

New immigration rules based on talent and ability scoring system and not where the applicant is coming from

When the draft laws proposed by the British Government regarding how immigration rules will become at the end of the Brexit transition period are taken into consideration, it is clear to see that the intention is to create a talent-based scoring system. So, what happens if a new system of immigration applications comes into play? Although the full details of the new system have not yet been finalized, it seems as though we may be facing a transition period that will take much longer than anticipated.

Upon UK's exit from the European Union and the Implementation Period, the concept of the right to "free movement" will cease to exist. This suggests that, migrants who are and are not from the European Union will all be subjected to the UK immigration rules. Consequently, anybody who wants to visit the UK, work in the UK, study in the UK, will need permission regardless of whether they are included in the European Union or not.
The current immigration application system in the UK allows the entry of highly skilled non-EU workers and those of EU workers of any skill level. This system will change so that any worker from any country with skills can migrate to the UK. Accordingly, anyone who is planning to come to the UK whether it be to study, work or set up a business, will need to prove evidence of sponsorship from their employer regardless of whether they are coming from an EU country or outside the EU.

Some critics are of the view that the "right to free movement" will also end after the Transition Period. Depending on how long the negotiations take, this could be a real consequence coming into force in January 2021. Furthermore, it seems as though the British Government intends to bring in an Australian-style points-based immigration system to manage the immigrant movement to the UK.

According to the immigration act, migrants to be admitted to the UK are planned to be selected based on "economically important characteristics" such as education, language skills and work experience. This means that applicants will have to choose a qualified profession from a list and get the minimum required score to be eligible to a visa. It is planned to examine on the applicant's personal and financial details and identity documents, as well as the applicant's education, employment, health and travel history.

In accordance to the aforementioned immigration system, skilled migrants with skilled and work experience are selected, generally based on education, language skills and economically categorized characteristics. Furthermore, the allocation of scores will depend on immigration policies and the status of the employment market in the UK. However, it is anticipated that the applicant will be enabled to choose a qualified profession from a list and meet the minimum score for the subject profession in order to be eligible for a visa.

In terms of European citizens and their families living in the UK, they will also need to apply and obtain approval by the European Union Reconciliation Programme to stay in the UK.

Due to the recent developments, it can be observed that the UK's intention is that the Australian-style polka dot visa and immigration system to come into force by the end of 2020, two years earlier than initially planned.

The Ankara Agreement and work visa applications will continue until 31st December 2020.

A number of politicians in the UK are planning to put an end to uncontrolled immigration of non-skilled workers until the Transition Period is completed. However, under the Brexit Transition Period Agreement between the UK and the European Union, this should be considered as difficult to achieve, since the European Union rules will continue to be implemented in the UK until at least 31st December 2020. Subsequently, rights and freedoms arising from EU law, such as the provisions of the Ankara Agreement, will continue until December 31, 2020.

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