The Future of EU-UK Youth Mobility


Following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union (EU), freedom of movement which was once enjoyed by UK and European nationals was removed. This has had significant repercussions on the European and UK youths who now face ongoing challenges in terms of studying, working and living abroad.

The new immigration rules now require young people to obtain visas to study or work in the UK for over six months. This is particularly burdensome in respect of young workers whose main visa route requires them to obtain sponsorship via an employer.

However, there is some positive news on the horizon!

Proposed changes

the European Commission has made a recommendation to start talks with the UK for a post-Brexit deal to alleviate European and UK youths from the stringent repercussions of Brexit.

It is envisaged that the new route would work in much the same way as the existing Youth Mobility visa and would including the following provisions:

  • Apply to European and UK citizens aged 18 to 30;
  • Allow young people to travel and remain in the destination country for up to four years;
  • Mobility would not be purpose bound i.e the individual can engage in different activities whilst in the destination country such as work, study, research or general travel;
  • A reduction in tuition fees for EU nationals when studying in the UK which will provide equal treatment of European and UK students;
  • A reduction in immigration costs in terms of visa fees and NHS health surcharge;
  • The removal of quotas on overall immigration numbers; and
  • Equal treatment in respect of working conditions.

Maroš Šefčovič (Executive Vice-President for European Green Deal, Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight) has described this proposal as being the first step towards an ambitious but realistic agreement between the EU and the UK that would fix this issue” and that the “aim is to rebuild human bridges between young Europeans on both sides of the Channel”.

Benefits for the UK  

Apart from the obvious benefit of increased mobility for European and UK youths the proposal is also likely to have the following significant positive effects on:

  • The hospitality and retail sector, which traditionally rely on young and seasonal workers and has been negatively affected as a result of the post-Brexit immigration rules;
  • The tourism industry will inevitably feel a boost as more immigration will lead to more spending, travel and tourism;  
  • Employers will have a wider talent pool to tap into;
  • UK local economies through spending, taxes and job creation; and
  • The UK EU relationship which could open the door to further changes.

In light of the overbearing stream of bad news in the immigration sector, this positive step will be welcomed by many organisations, across most sectors. Although the proposals will not reinstate the full freedom of movement, it is certainly a step in the right direction and we hope that it will be a catalyst for further changes in relation to immigration and the freedom of movement.