Australia is expected to be among the first countries to sign a free trade agreement with a post-Brexit United Kingdom, and that agreement may reportedly include a provision allowing Australians to live and work in the UK without a visa.
As things stand, Australians can travel to the UK and remain there for six months without a visa. However, if you’re an Australian who wants to work there, you have to obtain a visa in order to do so. And in order to get the visa, you have to meet one of the following three conditions: (1) be under the age of 30, (2) have a parent or grandparent who was born in the UK, or (3) be sponsored by an employer in the UK.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who just scored a landslide victory over Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn in the UK national election, has been talking about freedom of movement between Australia and the UK for years—since he was mayor of London.
“These are nations that are very similar in many ways—we share very, very similar interests and a uniquely shared set of values,” he said earlier this year, according to the Daily Mail.
But such an arrangement obviously depends on whether or not the two governments can reach an agreement that satisfies their respective interests and concerns. For example, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison recently said he does not envision striking a completely open trade agreement—which Australia currently has with New Zealand—with any other countries, including the UK.
“The New Zealand arrangement is quite unique and it’s not one we would probably ever contemplate extending,” was how Morrison put it after a meeting with Johnson.
There is also a concern on the part of the Australian government that a visa-free arrangement could lead to immigration headaches, with a massive influx of British nationals coming to Australia and staying there indefinitely.
At any rate, there is eagerness on both sides to begin negotiations.
“We want easy business to be done between our two countries,” British High Commissioner to Australia Vicki Treadell said in an interview with the Australian Financial Review. “Part of that is actually how the movement of people takes place between our two countries.”
She added that an agreement is expected to be negotiated and finalized within a year.