Immigration in the headlines – the new bill

The Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill (the Bill) was introduced by the government in the House of Commons on 5 March 2020, following reference to it in the Queen’s Speech on 19 December 2019.

The end of free movement

The Bill will end the EU’s rules on free movement of persons, which are retained in UK law by the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018, as amended by the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020. It will make citizens from the EU, the EEA EFTA states of Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland (referred to collectively as “EEA citizens”), and their family members, subject to UK immigration controls. This means they will require permission to enter and remain in the UK, whether to work, study or otherwise.

The Bill’s measures

The measures in the Bill include:

  • repealing free movement and bringing EEA citizens and their family members under UK immigration control;
  • protecting the status of Irish citizens in UK immigration law once their EU free movement rights end, by ensuring that Irish citizens will not require permission to enter or remain in the UK after free movement ends;
  • a power to align the treatment of EEA and non-EEA citizens in respect of the future immigration system; and
  • powers to amend retained EU law governing social security co-ordination, including enabling the government and/or, where appropriate, a devolved authority to implement new benefit rules for EEA citizens in the UK.

The EU Settlement Scheme

The European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 protects the residence rights of EEA citizens and their family members who are in the UK by the end of the transition period (i.e. 31 December 2020). The EU Settlement Scheme enables all EEA citizens and their family members resident before the end of the transition period to apply to continue to live in the UK. This will make their status clear when the new points-based immigration system begins operating from 1 January 2021. The deadline for applications to the EU Settlement Scheme is 30 June 2021. We can assist with the process to obtain EU Settled Status.

The new points-based immigration system

The new points-based immigration system will be set out in the Immigration Rules, as currently apply to non-EEA citizens. The new rules will be published later in 2020, but will be based on the policies set out in the government’s policy statement published on 19 February 2020. This covers a pledge to attract “the brightest and best talent from around the world”. The new rules will take into account advice the government received from the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) on a new points-based immigration system, as well as on salary thresholds in the immigration system.

We will update you on the progress of the Bill and the new points-based immigration system as news reaches us.

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Verity Buckingham

About Verity Buckingham

Verity is experienced in all aspects of employment law and corporate immigration matters. She deals mostly with corporate clients advising on contentious and non-contentious employment matters. Verity's contentious practice includes defending claims in the Employment Tribunal and experience of Employment Appeal Tribunal litigation in relation to claims of unfair dismissal, discrimination, equal pay and whistleblowing.

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