Immigration Bill (UK Brexit)

The Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill (a Brexit Bill) was introduced in the House of Commons today (5 March 2020). This Blog does not focus on immigration or social security policy or law, and this post will be the only one on this matter.

The purpose of the Bill is to end free movement of persons in UK law and make nationals from the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland, and their family members, subject to UK immigration control.

The Government’s intention is at the end of the transition period, 31 December 2020, citizens of the EU, the EEA EFTA states of Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein, and of Switzerland, and their family members, will require permission to enter and remain in the UK under the Immigration Act 1971.

The Bill protects the immigration status of Irish citizens once free movement ends.

It also contains provision for the Government (and/or, where appropriate, a devolved authority) to amend retained direct EU legislation relating to the social security co-ordination regime, which is retained in UK law by the EUWA 2018.

The Bill was first introduced in the Commons in the previous Parliament where, in the 2017-2019 session, it reached Report stage after completing a Public Bill Committee. The Bill fell when Parliament was prorogued before the December 2019 General Election. I posted about it at the time.

There have been no substantial changes to the content of the Bill since it was previously considered in the last Parliament. The only changes made are minor drafting clarifications in places, and updates to the list of retained EU law to be repealed to avoid duplication of changes already made through the Immigration, Nationality and Asylum (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (2019/745) which come into force on 31 December 2020.

The Government has legislated to protect resident EEA citizens and their family members through the EUWAA 2020, which protects the residence rights of EEA citizens and their family members who are resident in the UK by the end of the transition period.

The Government fully opened the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) to all EEA citizens and their family members on 30 March 2019. The Scheme is set out in the Immigration Rules to enable EEA citizens and their family members to apply for UK immigration status, so their current rights continue, and their status is clear when the new global points-based immigration system begins.

The Immigration (Citizens’ Rights Appeals) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 made under the EUWAA 2020, provide individuals who apply under the EUSS or for an EUSS family permit or travel permit, after 31 January 2020, with a right of appeal against decisions affecting their entitlement to enter and remain in the UK under the EUSS, and against decisions in relation to applications for EUSS family permits or travel permits.

Those individuals who have a right to apply under the EUSS will have until 30 June 2021 to do so, provided they arrived in the UK by the end of 2020.

This period of six months between the end of the transition period (31 December 2020) and 30 June 2021 is referred to as ‘the grace period’ and is a requirement of Articles 18(1)(b) and 18(2) of the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement (and equivalent provisions in the EEA EFTA and Swiss citizens’ rights agreements). Statutory instruments to be made under the powers in the EUWAA 2020 will protect EEA citizens and their family members’ existing rights of residence, entry and exit until then. These savings will also extend to those with pending applications to the scheme and those with unresolved appeals.

The Government will also bring forward a statutory instrument to ensure individuals who are in the UK as frontier workers by the end of the transition period can continue working from January 2021 onwards. Frontier workers are individuals who are resident outside the UK, but employed or self-employed in the UK.

Further information may be obtained from these Bill Explanatory Notes – here.