Virginia, US

Jul 23 2019

Boris Johnson To Become Prime Minister

United Kingdom

At a Glance

  • Boris Johnson will replace Theresa May as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom on July 24, 2019.
  • Brexit will be at the top of the agenda for the new Prime Minister, who is committed to leaving the European Union on October 31, 2019 with or without a Withdrawal Agreement.
  • Employers should continue to make contingency plans for a no-deal Brexit and identify, reassure and assist any European Economic Area and Swiss staff or their family members who will need to apply for status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

The situation

Boris Johnson has won the Conservative Party’s leadership following Theresa May’s resignation as the Prime Minister in June 2019. He will become the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom on July 24, 2019. The appointment is expected to have wide implications for how the United Kingdom will exit the European Union and the United Kingdom’s future immigration policy.

A closer look

  • No-deal Brexit. Boris Johnson has insisted the United Kingdom will leave the European Union with or without a Withdrawal Agreement by October 31, 2019. He is likely to face significant opposition if the United Kingdom is to leave without a deal. A number of Conservative ministers have resigned preemptively in anticipation of his appointment and more are expected to follow to oppose a no-deal Brexit.
  • Migration target. Boris Johnson has refused to commit to the Conservative party’s target of reducing net migration to ‘tens of thousands.’ Instead, he has suggested that the United Kingdom should be more open to highly skilled immigrants with an Australian style points-based system while becoming tougher on those who abuse the system and controlling unskilled migration. Mr. Johnson has also proposed an amnesty for undocumented migrants who can prove 12 or 14 years’ residence in the United Kingdom. His definitive plan and detailed policy proposals are expected to be announced over the coming months.


Impact for employers

  • Contingency planning. Employers should continue prepare for a no-deal Brexit on October 31, 2019.
  • Workforce audit and communication. Employers should monitor their existing workforce and any upcoming hires or relocations to ensure they are aware of all workers who will be impacted by a no-deal Brexit, including business visitors, European Economic Area (EEA) nationals in the United Kingdom and UK nationals in the EEA. They should then communicate with all affected employees and support them through any applications for status they need to make.

Impact for foreign nationals

  • EU and Swiss nationals in the United Kingdom. Eligible EEA and Swiss nationals and their family members should apply for status under the EU Settlement Scheme before December 31, 2020 if there is no deal. Irish nationals do not need to register as they are covered by separate UK-Ireland treaties.
  • UK nationals in Europe. Political commitments have been made in the European Union, EEA and Switzerland that UK nationals will be able to continue living in the country where they currently reside. UK nationals should look out for any additional processes that may be required after Brexit.


The default position is that the United Kingdom will leave the European Union on October 31, 2019 without a deal unless a further extension or a deal is agreed before then. The current Withdrawal Agreement has been rejected by the UK Parliament three times, and is unlikely to be passed.

Looking ahead

  • Recommendations to the Migration Advisory Committee. Based on his previous support of an ‘Australian style’ points-based immigration system, Johnson is expected to ask the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to incorporate elements of the Australian points-based system into the future migration system in the United Kingdom. Looking further ahead, the MAC is expected to report to the UK government by January 2020 on its recommendations for differential regional salary thresholds, and a new immigration system replacing free movement is expected to be phased in starting 2021.
  • More upheaval in Parliament likely. Continuing divisions over Brexit within the Conservative Party may reduce the government’s parliamentary majority, and may lead to further resignations and a general election over the coming months.

Visit Fragomen’s dedicated Brexit site which contains news, FAQs, and analysis/commentary in the form of blogs, videos, webcasts and events.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen or send an email to [email protected].