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Leaked Brexit document shows plans for digital immigration status checker portal

Government is set to create a joined-up digital portal to check immigration status of EU citizens post-Brexit, according to leaked Home Office document

A leaked Home Office document setting out the government’s Brexit plans includes creating a digital immigration status portal to check the status of European Union (EU) citizens.

The leaked draft document, obtained by the Guardian, sets out a series of proposals for the UK’s immigration system post-Brexit. This includes plans to make the “new immigration system as digital, flexible and frictionless for individuals and employers as possible”.  

The government aims to create a digital portal where employers and public service providers can check people’s immigration status “and take action if necessary”.

The digital “status checker” service will be supported by “improved data sharing capabilities between government departments, notably between the Home Office, HM Revenue and Customs [HMRC], and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), to link together tax, benefit and immigration records in a fully automated and digital way,” the document said.

However, building a new system will take time, particularly as it involves data from several departments, all of which would need to ensure their own systems and data are up to scratch.

The Brexit plans said that it’s likely “that we will need to issue a physical document to EU citizens evidencing their right to stay during the temporary implementation period, though the intention is to replace this with a fully digital process – including a web portal and checking service – as soon as operationally feasible”.

However, the document gives no timings on how long it would take before a digital service is fully operational, nor who would be responsible for creating the portal.

The plans, which have not yet been approved by ministers, also highlights plans to tell UK companies they should hire UK citizens unless they can prove “an economic need” to do otherwise.

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“We are clear that, wherever possible, UK employers should look to meet their labour needs from resident labour,” the document said.

Earlier this year, London mayor Sadiq Khan said the capital would remain open to talent from around the world, despite the threats posed by Brexit to the city’s tech sector.

On Twitter, Khan said the leaked plans are “a blueprint on how to strangle our economy” and added that it’s wrong for both London and the country as a whole.

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