1. An agreement with the EU on the lines of the EU Canada Treaty would not increase permanent immigration to the UK. The agreement with Canada explicitly states that it does not cover job-seekers, employment on a permanent basis, residence or measures regarding citizenship[i]. It makes provision for the temporary transfer of specialists.
2. The Agreement devotes only six substantive pages to immigration out of about 1600. It allows companies to make temporary transfers of specialists and senior managers between the EU and Canada. The overall number is unlimited but each transfer is restricted to the lesser of three years or the length of the contract, with a possible extension of up to 18 months. National rules on salaries can be maintained and a visa requirement is permitted.
3. The Agreement also requires certain professionals, including those who are self -employed, to be allowed entry on a temporary basis to provide a contracted service for a period of less than 12 months. The individuals can only work for the enterprise that contracted them.
4. The existing UK immigration rules already make similar provisions for non-EU immigration:
– Intra-company transfers (ICTs) are available for non-EU citizens. In 2015 the UK issued around 35,000 such visas under Tier 2 of which 12,000 were for more than one year. The UK currently allows ICT visas to be extended for up to nine years, depending on the salary[ii].
– There is also a category for contractors covered by trade agreements. In 2015 the UK issued around 500 visas under the category Tier 5 – International Agreements[iii].
5. If the UK was able to reach a similar trade agreement with the EU it would be able to control the movement of people from the EEA for work or settlement – that is most of net migration.
[ii] UK Visas and Immigration, Tier 2 https://www.gov.uk/tier-2-intracompany-transfer-worker-visa/overview
[iii] UK Visas and Immigration, Tier 5, https://www.gov.uk/tier-5-international-agreement/eligibility